Houston Forward Times

25 June 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney

State Rep. Sylvester Turner Inspires Attendees To Embrace History As Keynote Speaker At Juneteenth Celebration

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Attendees from Missouri City and all across the Greater Houston area gathered at the Quail Valley City Centre on June 19th to help the Missouri City Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (MCJCF) celebrate their 12th annual Community Service Awards Gala during their week of Juneteenth activities.

The Community Service Awards Gala recognizes community leaders who exemplify conviction, purpose and enthusiasm as responsible citizens in the community.

This year’s keynote speaker was State Representative Sylvester Turner, District 139 (D-Houston) and he delivered a timely message on the importance of remembering Juneteenth and continuing to build on the legacy of those who came before us.

Rep. Turner was raised in the Acres Homes community in northwest Houston and attended the University of Houston and Harvard Law School before joining the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. He later founded the Houston-based law firm Barnes & Turner in 1983 and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1988. He has served more than 26 years in the Texas House of Representatives and chairs both the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Greater Houston Area Legislative Delegation.

Juneteenth, which is an abbreviated form of ‘June 19th’, is an extremely important historical observance that has grown in popularity across the Gulf Coast and the United States. Also known as ‘Freedom Day’ or ‘Emancipation Day’, it is an extremely important holiday for African Americans in the U.S. because it commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the United States to the 200,000 slaves in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865.

Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, the state of Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation had originally taken effect on January 1, 1863, but word didn’t reach Texas until two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, and more than two years after the proclamation was issued.

Union Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 18, 1865 and read General Order No. 3 in Galveston proclaiming, "Slaves are free" on June 19, 1865, Juneteenth eventually spread to Houston, where it is celebrated annually and observed in more than 26 states. Juneteenth is honored similar to the ways we celebrate Independence Day by listening to live music, having community gatherings, youth events, cookouts, religious events, and educational sessions.

Several deserving high school and college students were the recipients of scholarships from the MCJCF and several of them expressed their thanks and shared their many successes and accomplishments as a result of having received a scholarship from the foundation.missouri city 1 large

The Community Service Awards Gala was well attended and the 2014 Community Service honorees included Attorney Teana Watson, T.V. Watson Law PLLC and Dr. Theophilus Herrington, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.

Among those in attendance at the Community Service Awards Gala were MCJCF founder Don Smith and his wife Etta; Alice L. Aanstoos, Regional Vice-President, External Affairs, AT&T; MCJCF Honorary Chair and State Representative Ron Reynolds and his wife Dr. Jonita Reynolds, who masterfully served as Mistress of Ceremony for the event; Dr. Robert Childress, Fort Bend County Commissioner Grady Prestage; newly-elected Missouri City Councilman Chris Preston; Missouri City Councilwoman Yolanda Ford; Missouri City Councilman Floyd Emery; Constable Ruben Davis; Cary P. Yates and his wife Judge Clarease Yates; Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards; Clarence "Doc" Holliday; Loveless Mitchell; and many more.