On Friday, June 19th, our nation recognized Juneteenth, which is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865, that Union General Gordon Granger led thousands of federal troops to Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended and slaves had been freed. Throughout the past week here in Excelsior Springs there have been a number of activities taking place to recognize the holiday and also to give support to a movement that is underway in recognition that Black Lives Matter.
The week’s celebrations started on Monday, June 15th, newly appointed Mayor Sharon Powell presented Pastor James Wesley with a proclamation declaring Friday, June 19th, Juneteenth day formally in Excelsior Springs. The proclamation in its entirety can be found on the City’s website. Pastor Wesley addressed the council by saying, “Let us be the first city to rise above the separation. Let us go from one block to one block, to one neighborhood, to one neighborhood, to this city. Let us come together. Because we have those who have lived here all their lives. I and my family have been here for 28 years. And in Excelsior, there has been a lot of mistreatment in the city. I recognize that the door is open. Revelation 2 it says, ‘God has before us an open door that no man can shut.’ But it’s going to take all of us to walk through it. Not just some, not just one race, but all of us. So I say this on behalf of accepting this proclamation for every African American that lives in this city and those who have lived in this city. A change will come. So I ask that you all stand with us. Let’s make a change here in this city. I didn’t go protest no where else, because I live here, and I’m going to change the game here. So let us stand above all other cities. Let us be the first to tear down barriers, tear down walls, and cross valleys together. Climb hills together. And God will be pleased and He will give glory.”
On Saturday, June 20th, the Excelsior Springs Black Lives Matter group held a march that ran along US 69 Hwy along the Rainbow Trail to Century Park where there was a celebration and barbecue. Approximately 75 local citizens gathered to participate and were met with both friendly honks of support and jeers that were thrown out of moving cars that were going by.
Local photographer, Kevin Morgan, also captured the day in pictures. Click here to see his collection.
It was there that Pastor Wesley announced his intentions on running for school board so that all children, of all races and economic classes, will have the same opportunities allowed to them that other students get and for them to be treated fairly.
Those participating were asked why they were attending and many were willing to give video testimony.
The real movement that is underway to change policy and provide leadership opportunities to our black population isn’t just something happening nationally, it’s happening here in Excelsior Springs, too. The City of Excelsior Springs announced their intention of creating an Equality and Inclusion committee to their Communities of Excellence program. The work of the committee is still yet to be determined but over 20 local citizens have shown interest in participating.
If you are interested in becoming involved in the work that the Black Lives Matter group are working toward, please join us on Facebook and be a part of this change.
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