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Flag raising ceremony in Downtown Killeen to honor, celebrate Juneteenth

The drums, the calling off the ancestors, and the three lap walk on Avenue D were to celebrate Juneteenth, seasons, purpose and harvest.

KILLEEN, Texas — In honor of America's newest federal holiday, a Juneteenth flag raising ceremony was held in Downtown Killeen on Friday.

The drums, the calling off the ancestors and the three-lap walk on Avenue D were to celebrate Juneteenth, seasons, purpose and harvest.

"We are looking for a bountiful harvest because we are taking on the responsibility of owning our freedom. We are taking on the responsibility of ensuring that we are enduring within our freedom," said Ronnie Russell of the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce.

Juneteenth is the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19, the date when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they were free in 1865. For Army veteran Tim Tunsdale, the day has a double meaning.

"What people don’t know is that it was the United States' colored troops who came with Gen. Granger to Texas. Eighty percent of those Army soldiers became Buffalo Soldiers. So when we honor Juneteenth, we also honor Buffalo Soldiers," Tunsdale said.

In May, Russell asked Killeen City Council to fly the Juneteenth flag in front of City Hall. His request was denied, so he decided to have a flag raising ceremony at the Black Innovation Chamber of Commerce building and give out 200 Juneteenth flags to the community.

"For every no, there is a yes,” said Russel. “They voted and made their decision based off what they thought. I thought different, and because I thought different, I had to make sure education is at the forefront of what we are doing and why we are doing it."

On Saturday, The Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce will have a Juneteenth 5K at Lions Club Park to provide relief grants to black-owned businesses in need of funding. The run starts at 8 a.m.