LONGVIEW, Texas — Juneteenth celebrations across East Texas come with a new meaning this year, as the annual holiday is now a national holiday.
Nona Snoddy, one of the organizers for this year's parade says she's looking forward to not only celebrating but educating people on the history and importance of Juneteenth.
"I think with it becoming a national holiday, it now gives us even more of an opportunity to have those tough conversations to educate people on the true history so that people will know the importance of our culture," Snoddy said.
Snoddy adds it also allows her to talk about not just the freedom granted to African-Americans on June 19th, 1865, but how far Black Americans have come and the contributions they've made to shaping our nation.
"It's a lot more than just being black; it's about what we have offered, what we have done, our contributions that we have made," Snoddy said. "That's that piece of education that I'm talking about so first we want to educate; then we celebrate, then we want to be motivated to get out and do what we need to do."
The anticipation of Saturday's parade includes concern about safety, especially after a group of extremists was arrested over the weekend near a pride parade in Idaho.
Snoddy and other organizers are working with local law enforcement to ensure everyone remains safe while having a good time.
"From the sheriff's department to the city of Longview Police Department," Snoddy said. "We have police that will be visible and out not only to show you know who they are, but also to make sure that we feel safe in those environments this weekend."
The parade is set to start this Saturday on Martin Luther King Jr, Boulevard at 10 a.m. and end at Foster Middle School. Other activities are set to follow at Stamper Park at 400 Fair Street and Teague Park on 415 American Legion Boulevard.