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Juneteenth celebrated in Great Falls

Juneteenth celebrated in Great Falls
Posted at 8:45 PM, Jun 23, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Joy and community radiated out of Gibson Park this weekend as the Great Falls Public Library hosted a Juneteenth celebration.

“Today is a celebration of the liberation of the slaves in African American history in Texas,” explained Bishop Marcus Collins from the Alexander Temple.

Juneteenth celebrations date back to the 1800s, but this was Great Falls’ third annual celebration, and it continues to grow and evolve every year.

“It’s turned into, if you look around, it’s a multi-cultural event,” Bishop Collins said, “Look at all the cultures here, and a multi-generational event, look at all the young people that’s involved.”

A combination of the words June and nineteenth, Juneteenth commemorates the day when the last enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free.

This life-changing information arrived two months after the end of the Civil War, and two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

In 2021, President Joe Biden officially made June 19th a federal holiday.

The Saturday event included dancers, rappers, orators, and tables set up with more information, such as the diversity and inclusion group from Great Falls High School called I Am Bison (IMB).

Juneteenth celebrated in Great Falls
Juneteenth celebrated in Great Falls (2024)

“Our goal is just to provide insight on the importance of inclusion and providing opportunities for everyone and bring insight to ignorance,” said Tahlia Murillo from IMB.

Even though school is out for summer, these young change-makers got together to spread their message of inclusion to anyone who would listen.

“We just really think it’s important that we go to these community events because we want people to know that we care,” Murillo explained, “And we really think it’s important to spread our message of inclusion and treating people with respect regardless of where you come from or what you look like.”

IMB mirrors the goal Bishop Collins has for the people of Great Falls.

“Treat each person with love and respect and then person by person, we can make this world a better place,” Bishop Collins said, “You might call me corny, but I truly believe that.”

“Like at the end of the day, we all may look different, but we’re all human,” Murillo said, “We all have hearts, we all have problems, we all go through things, and when we experience that together we become stronger as a community.”

As the end of slavery continues to be celebrated in the United States: “Let not Juneteenth just be a day in Great Falls, but let every day be a day of Juneteenth,” Bishop Collins said, “By which we can share liberation and love with our fellow man everywhere.”