Killeen: Juneteenth flag flies, city council vote notwithstanding
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The Juneteenth flag was raised Friday in Killeen, not at city hall as some residents had hoped, but at the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce at 324 East Avenue D.
The Black Chamber was behind a proposed city council resolution that would allowed the flag to fly from Friday through Sunday at city hall, but council members rejected the measure because they were concerned about opening a Pandora’s box that could have forced the city to fly such banners as an LGBTQIA+ flag or a Confederate flag.
A multi-generational crowd of Killeen residents gathered Friday not only for the flag raising, but also for speeches and ceremonial chants to mark Juneteenth and to recognize the current state of race relations.
The crowd cheered and applauded as the flag was raised, and then made three circuits around the block, chanting “Ase,” which means amen, or I agree, in the language of the Yoruba tribe of West Africa.
Ronnie Russell, the president of the IBCC, said while he was initially disappointed by the city council’s decision to not fly the Juneteenth flag at city hall, he says it motivated the group to make the weekend celebrations even more grand.
The Juneteenth flag, which was created in 1997, has the same colors as the U.S. flag, red, white, and blue, but features a starburst and an arching middle line that symbolizes the new era that began for Black Americans and all Americans after the end of slavery.
Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday Thursday after President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that passed unanimously in the Senate and that received 14 no votes in the U.S. House, is a celebration of June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston and issued a proclamation that declared slaves in Texas to be free three years after Congress passed and President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The celebration was at first regional, but began to spread slowly across much of the rest of the U.S.
Copyright 2021 KWTX. All rights reserved.