East Texans came together in honor of Juneteenth for a full day of activities.

The annual Juneteenth Parade traveled down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tyler on Saturday, but the festivities didn’t end there. The parade finished at Woldert Park, which hosted vendors and a car show. Many in the community also hosted barbecues and block parties throughout the day.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Mjr. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston with a message that the war was over and slaves were free.

Saturday’s hourlong parade started at 10 a.m. and featured cars, motorcycles, floats, horses and even a giant shopping cart. As they moved down the road, many vehicles’ passengers threw candy out to the children, a tradition that goes way back, Chakiska Brown, of Tyler, said.

Brown was one of hundreds of attendees who watched the parade from the side of the road. Her seat was in front of her house. Having lived in Tyler about a year, it was her first time attending the parade and said she enjoyed it.

“The way the community joined together to make it happen, there was no negative stuff going on,” she said.

The Juneteenth Association of Tyler member Pamela Session helped organize and set up the event, which goes back about 40 years, she said. The parade was a chance to meet new people and to bring the community together and be supportive.

Session said one of the best parts of the event was the Juneteenth Association of Tyler helping out the community’s youth.

“We gave away nine scholarships this year to students that graduated,” she said. “We’re very excited about that, to help them reach their goal in their education.”

Away from the parade at the 900 block of Duckenfield Avenue, a block party was hosted Saturday afternoon to bring community together with food and entertainment, said Randall Jackson, Butler College community president.

Butler College is a community of African Americans in neighborhoods near the no-longer-operating college of the same name. The inaugural event was hosted to uplift the community, Jackson said.

“We all come together to do this for the community because the community needs people like us to help our elderly,” he said. “We have a lot of elderly people around here who can’t get out and can’t do things.”

The new initiative to give back to their community will be an ongoing thing, said Seretha Black, Butler College community vice president, adding there will be a focus on both the youth and the elderly.

“Our mission is to get our kids in Butler College, female and male youths, together to go to school, finish school (and) go to college,” she said.

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