The excitement level looks to be pretty high at a Pauls Valley bank as it prepares to host a gathering meant to celebrate freedom in the form of slavery ending all those many years ago in the United States.
First United Bank is planning to hold a celebration of Juneteenth on Friday, June 17.
The actual date of June 19, 1865 marks the first ever Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, today the longest running African American holiday.
“We are proud to be celebrating and spreading knowledge and awareness for this important day in American history,” bank official Della Wilson said in a released statement.
“As the newest federal holiday, we will spend time learning more about Juneteenth and how we can be supportive leaders for inclusion and diversified growth in our community.
“First United is excited to present our first bank-wide Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom commemorating the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.”
On a personal note, Wilson says the event has received the kind of positive response from the community that she doesn't recall ever seeing before.
“People have been telling me that people in this community have wanted this for a long time,” Wilson said, referring to an organized event to celebrate Juneteenth and what the holiday means.
“In all my years in Pauls Valley I've never had reservations for an event like this one; an event so highly responded to community-wide; reservations that filled up so fast.”
The public is invited to come for the raising and flying of the Juneteenth Freedom flag at 11:15 a.m.
They're also encouraged to wear red, black or green in honor of the flag's colors.
The bank, located at 315 W. Grant, will host an authentic soul food lunch to be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Members from across the community are expected to prepare their own ‘soul food’ specialties, passed down through the generations for “satisfying our deepest hunger, our heart and soul.”
The event includes a live-streaming with Fox and Rob Rich, a New Orleans couple who endured 21 years as an incarcerated family and whose story is told in the acclaimed Academy Award-nominated documentary TIME.
The live stream event is scheduled to go from 12:15 to 1 p.m.
“Our desire is to invite our community, customers, associates, partners and stakeholders to participate. We truly hope you can join us for this momentous occasion to explore, experience and learn about the cultural significance of Juneteenth, which is short for 'June Nineteenth.'”
The Emancipation Proclamation was the changing day for Black Americans but it was not until two years later that freedom rang.
On this two-year mark, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed.
This moment was celebrated with prayer, song and new clothing to symbolize newfound freedom.