Black gay, lesbian organizations hope racial, ethnic gender minorities and straight allies will attend event
The Legacy of Success Foundation is partnering with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Women of Distinction, Murray Entertainment and the Black Outreach Ministries of Cathedral of Hope to present a family picnic on Sunday to celebrate Juneteenth, the annual celebration in honor of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The groups sponsoring the picnic are making a special effort to get people from the white GLBT community, the transgender community and other ethnic minorities, as well as non-gay people, to participate, said Felicia Miller, a member of Legacy of Success Foundation and one of the coordinators of the event.
Miller said sponsors hope the picnic will give them the opportunity to educate others not only about the sponsoring organizations but also about a unique celebration in the African-American community.
Juneteenth June 19 is the anniversary of the day that slaves in Texas learned that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves. Lincoln had actually signed the decree in 1863. But slaves in Texas, which was still under Confederate control, did not learn of it until two years later, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and publicly read the proclamation.
Miller said that outside of Texas, many African-Americans often know little of the story behind Juneteenth and many don’t see it as a date to remember with celebrations. And inside Texas, even many younger African-American people don’t know the story either.
“To people even my age, early 40s, and younger, Juneteenth is just a reason for a party. They don’t know the history behind it. And neither do most people in the gay and lesbian community who are aren’t African American,” Miller said.
But the story of Juneteenth and the African-American civil rights struggle holds some important lessons of hope for the GLBT community, she said.
“We’re fighting for different kinds of equality, different levels of equality today in the GLBT community. But Juneteenth has meaning for us, too. It is a celebration of freedom, and it tells that freedom will come.
“It may take struggle and heartache and pain. But as long as you continue the struggle, it will come,” Miller said.
Miller said organizers will read the Emancipation Proclamation aloud during the picnic on Sunday, and those attending will receive gift bags that contain a copy of the historical document.
Coordinators will provide free food and beverages, and DJ Roy Murray of Murray Entertainment will provide music for the event. Representatives of the sponsoring groups will also speak briefly about their organizations.
But the main reason for the picnic, Miller said, is to “celebrate, to educate each other and be educated, and to talk about our collective efforts to move the GLBT causes forward.”
The Juneteenth picnic will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Samuell Grand Park. All interested people are invited to attend.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 16, 2006.