Thousands of residents lined Chicon Street this morning to celebrate Juneteenth, when the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves came to be enforced in Texas.
Nathan Robertson was one participant. He’s lived in East Austin all his life. Robertson says it’s important for him to acknowledge the historical importance of the day, and that the parade offers a chance to catch up with old friends.
“We see people we haven’t seen in a while because of work and church and school,” Robertson says. “You know, you get in your routine and don’t see people. But we come out here and we can see people we haven’t seen in a year.”
That feeling’s echoed by another participant excited about running into familiar faces.
“I hadn’t seen my cousin for years,” says Austinite Debra Cobbs. “And I happen to be coming over here – I’m volunteering at the Prayer Café for the festival today – and I happened to have seen him. So, it was really intriguing to see my cousin after so many years.”
Organizers have made community outreach a central part of this year’s Juneteenth Celebration. Groups are offering free HIV screenings and the Travis County Democrats are urging residents of East Austin to register to vote.
Standing at the corner of 12th and Chicon – an intersection that’s become a symbol of the challenges that often confront low-income neighborhoods – Debra Cobbs thinks the community parade is a positive consequence for a neighborhood in flux.
“It’s overdue, you know what I’m saying. And everybody is accepting it because, you know, less crime – and like I say, people is coming together and uniting. As it should be.”
The parade wraps up at Rosewood Park, where a festival with live entertainment, games and more will be held until 9 p.m. Below, check out a slideshow of the event, shot for KUT News by Filipa Rodrigues.
Check out this video of the parade by KUT's Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon.