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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Thursday Freedom Walk celebrates Juneteenth

Valerie Gunchick

Rain or shine, the time is always right to do what is right.  The cloudy weather and slight drizzle didn’t bring the spirit of the Freedom Walkers down!

Every year for the last 13 years, the George Bush Library hosts a program to celebrate June 19, 1865, the day Texas slaves learned of their new freedom, known as Juneteenth.

On Thursday, almost 200 community members walked the “Freedom Walk” at 9 a.m. to symbolize the walk the newly freed slaves made toward their new life of freedom in 1865. After the walk, participants gathered in the Frymire Auditorium to hear Oba William King speak about the history of Juneteenth.

“I would like for us to seek out the information that we are not taught and learn from it,” King said in his speech.

Shirley Hammond, Director of Education for the George Bush Library, said the presentation intended to reflect the value of freedom.

“This year is the 150th celebration of Juneteenth in Texas,” Hammond said. “Supporting unity and building a stronger community is important for all of us.”

King encouraged the audience to get involved by bringing students on stage and singing songs about the African American culture. He used a djembe drum, which is an African instrument which King said is like a heartbeat.

In the presentation, King told a story from traditional African culture of several different colored birds who all admired a black bird. King said the black bird in the story represented a theme of unity.

“Color on the outside doesn’t matter at all,” King said. “It’s what’s inside that counts.”

King said he usually does his presentations organically, following a certain theme and  incorporating it in a meaningful and interactive way for the students watching.

“It leads into my overall thing that only love can conquer hate,” King said. “We have to love each other like sisters and brothers.”
Lucile Young, who has participated in the Freedom Walk for 13 years and was one of the first black employees at A&M, said her support of the walk stems from her belief that people should be encouraged to learn about history.

“I can remember so many times that this opportunity [to learn about the history] wasn’t there, and it is there now for the children,” Young said. “You have to love yourself, then you learn to love others. Unity is about love and togetherness. It’s all about unity. I don’t see color. It’s all about what’s in your heart”

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