KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On June 19th, many in the U.S. recognized the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery known as Juneteenth.
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On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over and the enslaved were free.
That announcement came two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Juneteenth serves as both a celebration and a day of reflection that emphasizes education and achievement. The Beck Cultural Exchange Center hosted several events in Knoxville in honor of the holiday.
“It’s important to talk about emancipation and freedom and how that looks today,” said Renee Kesler with the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. “It is a significant part of our history, and we do not want to forget the past.”
The day's events started at 12 p.m., and there was bingo with a twist. Families and individuals played the classic game with black history trivia included.
A Living Museum event began at 5:30 p.m.
“More than 15 characters will be in place for one hour. Guests will be able to walk through the center and read about each one,” Kesler explained. “People will get a chance to learn about some of the great African-Americans in our history.”
At 7 p.m., members of Tennessee’s Black Caucus hosted a town hall meeting.
“This is the second annual town hall meeting to bring the community together and talk about issues that affect or influence the African-American community and the community-at-large,” Kesler said.
All events were free and open to the public.
Kesler said it's important to remember the people that came before.
"We get the chance to tell the truth. We get a chance to share these stories, this rich legacy. And as important-- if not more-- we get the opportunity to make a better world."