KILLEEN, Texas- Juneteenth is now a federal holiday – but before it was announced, Killeen Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce President Ronnie Russell was pushing for the city to raise the flag.
Dane and music marked the beginning of Friday’s Juneteenth flag raising ceremony organized by Russell and the Killeen Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce.
Last month, Russell lobbied the city to consider raising the Juneteenth Flag on the holiday – but after the Council unanimously voted against it, he knew he could not stop there.
“One thing that I do live by is for every ‘no’ there is a ‘yes,'” Russell said. “You can tell me ‘no,’ but I’m going to figure out what ‘yes’ looks like and im’a walk into it.”
Russell says flying the flag serves a greater meaning for freedom, and also helps African-Americans pass their history down to their children.
Although he was denied the flying of one flag, he, along with close to a hundred people in the community, raised more.
“Having this flag-raising ceremony is really going to allow the kids to know more about not just Juneteenth, but more about the energy and tenacity,” Russell said.
Juneteenth was signed into a federal holiday this week by President Joe Biden. Many who attended the event think this is great, but also that there is still work to be done to educate people on what this day really means.
“We want everyone in our community to understand that we need to start from a position of truth,” Black Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Chair Ron Jupiter said. “Just being out here, we get our entire community to say, ‘Hey what was Juneteenth? When did it happen? Where did it happen?'”
Before wrapping up the ceremony, those in attendance held a small march to bring attention to their message of season, purpose and harvest.
The line was led by Minister Beverly Robinson, who continued to chant “Asha” -another form of “amen.”
“It’s important for me to represent the ancestors and our legacy surrounding this event, because without the ancestors, we wouldn’t be,” Robinson said.
“Coming together and doing what we know we can do, which is unite,” Russell said.
For more Juneteenth events, you can visit the Innovation Black Chamber Facebook page.