Lake Charles Juneteenth celebrations filled with excitement and reflection

Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It was a day of rejoicing in the heart of downtown Lake Charles to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It’s the first-of-its-kind celebration in the city with over 100 participants joining the Juneteenth parade.

“This is the first time ever that we have had a Juneteenth parade here in Lake Charles. So, we are very excited, very ecstatic,” organizer Chante Rankins said.

It’s not only a day of celebration, but it’s also a day of reflection as Juneteenth is now a federal holiday.

“Basically, it’s a celebration of freedom. A lot of people don’t know what’s behind Juneteenth, but in 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, a lot of slaves in Galveston and the lower southern state areas - they had no idea they were free,” organizer Cameo Green said. “So, in 1865, on June 19, they found out they were actually free!”

“We are feeling awesome,” Rankins said. “We could scream. It’s like so exciting. Then when you pull in front of the Civic Center, you see our Juneteenth sign out there. So, it’s an amazing feeling - free.”

Participants hope the designation will stimulate more dialogue regarding race relations in the land of the free.

“We feel real great about it,” parade participants on the class of 1981 float said. “The fact that we can unite as one again like we said we are class of ’81. The schools have all been segregated and changed, so try to stick together as one. And we are one community, so we are better together.”

In addition to the parade, there was also a firework show at the Civic Center on Saturday night as part of the celebration.

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