TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Juneteenth commemorates the day 155 years ago now when the victorious Union Army brought news of the Emancipation Proclamation to Texas and ended slavery in this country.
Yet while June 19, 1865, was a joyous occasion, the history of racism, injustice, and violence against black Americans since has often been a dark and painful one.
The death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, an event which has driven hundreds of thousands of protesters across the nation into the streets, has sharply illustrated just how far this country still has to go in achieving racial justice and equality.
And while Floyd died in Minneapolis, East Texas has not been immune from racial violence.
In Tyler on Friday evening, one group observed Juneteenth by remembering victims of racial terror in Tyler and Smith County by holding a vigil for for 92 known black victims of lynchings in this area.
The event was organized by the Tyler Justice and Reconciliation group.
During the vigil, participants told stories about the events that took place, read the names of the more than 90 known victims who lost their lives, and prayed for change.
“I will not stand beside and see my brother lynched and see my sister hung,” said Cedric Granberry, president of the Tyler NAACP chapter. “I will stand up and say something. And not only will I say something, but I’m gonna make sure my children know.”
Organizers say the purpose of event is to acknowledge the past and learn from it.