New Generation launches its first annual Juneteenth Celebration in a big way
Though Hearne has celebrated Juneteenth in the past, it has probably never celebrated quite as well as it did last Saturday with a parade, a street re-naming, and a family party at Godfrey-Gentry Park with lots of games, eats and drinks and inflatable’s for the kids.
Festivities actually began the evening before with a softball tournament with ten teams competing for the New Generation Juneteenth title. Coming in first was Hearne’s own Puno Chorizo team followed by a team from Rockdale headed by Rev. Roger Jackson.
The parade, with about 50 entries, lined up on Saturday morning in front of Blackshear Elementary, winding around the park and up to the Darrell Moody Center with entries from walkers to floats to equestrian organizations in the rear. The New Generation Float featured music and DJ’s Steve Stone and Fraz Jones, visiting floats included T.R.U. Nation from Rockdale, those ladies in pink were the Small Town Sistas, some beautiful automobiles carried the parade presidents and Grand Marshalls Willie Mae Gentry in one and Andrew and Barbara Seymore in another, the parade banner was hoisted by Kevosha Owens, Tionie Thompson, and Regina Kelly, and that’s just the beginning.
Around 11 am, the parade began is trek through west Hearne from Blackshear to Alamo Street, down 6th street, and then back to Brazos Street recently renamed Martin Luther King Street. The process took almost an hour with the Boys and Girls Club locomotive float, reminding people of why Hearne is the Crossroads of Texas, taking first place entry honors.
The parade ended and ceremonies began at noon with a ribbon-cutting opening the new Martin Luther King Street. Parade Grand Marshalls Willie Mae Gentry and Andrew and Barbara Seymore cut the ribbon to open to corridor from Brown Street (Hwy 79) to Alamo Street. Dr. William A. Foster, Houston resident and native of Hearne, gave the address to announce the street’s re-opening under its new name.
But that was just the beginning of the day. From 1 pm to 9 pm, Godfrey Gentry Park opened to Hearne’s and visiting children with lots of fun and games and treats of all types all afternoon and evening long. It offered a day’s worth of fun and of opportunities to ask “what is Juneteenth and what is its significance to the people of Texas?” As one dramatic float featuring a slave owner and slaves reminded parade-goers, Juneteenth is the day that word finally reached Texas that the slaves were free.
New Generation member LaTonya Darnell said that the organization had a lot of help putting this event together and she sincerely hoped she did not forget any one of the organizations, businesses and corporations that chipped in to make the weekend a success.
Thanks go to sponsors including GATX—t-shirt sponsor, Luminant, the Hearne Supermarket and Brookshire Brothers, the Clums Club, Small Town Sistas, Sisters in Christ, Thrive Home Health Care, Interim Home Health Care, The Blackshear Alumni, T.R.U. Nation from Rockdale, county officials Vince Angeli, LeAnthony Dykes (Dykes Bail Bonds), and Keith Petitt, New Elam and Old Elam Missionary Baptist Churches, Jones Chapel, Ama’s and Mi Casita restaurants, Pennicks, the City of Hearne and the Hearne Police Department under Chief Thomas Williams (with special thanks to Officer Burrow), Bart Lockhart, TeJo’s, the Glenn Mack Funeral Home and all parade participants and Dr. Foster. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”
Melissa Freeman / Robertson County News