A far cry from the days of slavery

By Philippe Djegal - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's a day of reflection, rejoicing and parades. And, considering the fact that in 2009 America elected it's first black president, today symbolizes the best of the U.S.

East Texans say this year is a big addition for African American history.

"Thank you lord. Thank you for your freedom," said one East Texas woman.

Juneteenth was friday, but, today thousands of East Texans lined up along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Tyler, reflecting on a pride filled day.

"If you're not here - you missed it," said Barbara Long. "We're here in celebration of our heritage."

"We blessed man to be here. Blessed to have a black president," said Marlon Sanders. "Man we hope everything changes man. We all blessed people. Glad to be here."

Today honors those who paved the road to freedom by suffering through slavery. And, the younger generation of Americans understands that.

"I'm really excited because this is my first time at one of these kind of parades, and I'm just really happy," said Myles Harris. "All of the support and our black president - our first one. That's just too exciting."

"Without our history, we wouldn't be where we are," said Long. "Dr. Martin Luther King; [President] Obama. We thank god for our president, because he's here to help make us and free us and continue it. It's not just about us of one color. It's about everybody in office to do what's right - what's fair."

"The world and the people are continuing to change. It's a slow change but it changing, " said Bonnie Petty. "It's a good change."

And, one East Texan said today "gives me a sense of empowerment. It makes me feel like, like I can touch the sky, and my kids, when I have kids, will be able to touch the sky too."

The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas. But, it wasn't an official state holiday until 1980. Juneteenth is now celebrated in 30 other states.

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