SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Juneteenth celebrations are taking place across Springfield to mark the first year the date is recognized as a nation-wide holiday.
At Missouri State University (MSU), staff gathered to honor the day the last remaining slaves discovered they had been freed.
This has defined our nation’s history perhaps in ways nothing else much has besides maybe the actual Revolutionary War,” said Doctor Lyle Foster, an assistant professor at MSU. “It’s a story of survival, and I’m very grateful that Juneteenth has now become a national holiday.”
Its been 156 years since the last remaining slaves were freed from bondage.
Doctor Foster said it took two years for the law to reach remote Texas.
“One of the generals actually brought this word to Galveston Island in particular that the slaves had been set free,” said Foster. “But it’s been more than a holiday for the people that come from bondage. Texas just had that unique position of being a hold out in terms of the practice of slavery, so it just kind of took on a celebratory meaning.”
Though a lot has changed in 156 years, Foster said there is still work to be done.
“The underlying impacts of historical slavery, historical trauma, are still with us as a nation,” said Foster. “We are still working towards ultimate freedom, which I think is the ability to have all the promises of a society like ours can offer everyone.”
The event at MSU wrapped up with traditional songs sung by the Missouri State Gospel Choir.