Juneteenth gathering planned

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Organizers of a peaceful rally to remember George Floyd, a Black man killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minn., and protest systemic racism are organizing a celebration this week.

Members of the Facebook group “My Life Matters,” founded by Kyla Miller of North Newton, will host a Juneteenth celebration at 6 p.m. June 20 at Athletic Park.

A potluck-style meal and yard games are planned.

“This is a time to come celebrate (people of color’s) freedom day, which is June 19,” Miller wrote on Facebook. “We welcome all and if you can’t bring anything to the celebration you are more than welcome to come.”

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the slaves were free. This was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863.

With the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in April of 1865 and the arrival of Granger’s regiment, forces were finally strong enough to overcome resistance.