EAST TEXAS (KETK) — Juneteenth is the day Union Soldiers arrived in Galveston Texas letting slaves know they were free.

“It’s basically a day the slaves were free. So, it’s always a good time to celebrate something like that,” said Davondrick Crowe, Kilgore Juneteenth King.

On Saturday communities across East Texas held events including Kilgore, Tyler and Lufkin.

People of all ages enjoyed the parades, BBQ’s and spent the day together to celebrate freedom.

“I love the celebration that, all the people just gave me candy and I love it, and I got this shirt, and it’s pretty good,” said Mikah Persons, 8-year-old Longview resident.

Juneteenth happened on June 19, 1866. However, Juneteenth was not considered a federal holiday until June 17, 2021, with many children and even some adults not knowing what happened on that day. 

“I’d say this is a holiday that is very much skipped over in schools, and I feel as if that should be changed,” said Crowe.

With it now being a federal holiday schools, post offices, and banks will be closed. 

“It’s the only thing we have besides Martin Luther King or Black History Month,” said Whitney Hunt, Kilgore Juneteenth Queen.

People are hopeful that since it’s now observed as a federal holiday that they will ask questions, and be interested in learning about the important events that occurred on that day. 

“Today we honor that for our ancestors,” said Hunt.

Juneteenth is a day for people to come together and remember that freedom isn’t free.