Juneteenth: Rally commemorates the end of slavery

Published on Thursday, 19 June 2014 23:42 - Written by Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

State Rep. James White told a freedom rally celebration at Roseland Plantation in Van Zandt County Thursday that public office holders should listen to and serve all people. 

White was the main speaker for the rally commemorating the 149th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

 White said there are disagreements in families, in the body of Christ and other places, but that doesn’t mean a person should walk out. 

“I stand on broad shoulders in the Legislature. I stand on the shoulders of brothers and sisters that tilled the soil. Our ancestors built this country … We are going to stand here and fight for it and we are going to make it right the way it should be,” White said, “because the conscience of this country is based on how it treats us and how it recognizes us.” 

Change is going on in East Texas, White said. He suggested meeting people where they are and bringing them up. He encouraged extending the hand of service and giving the opportunity to compete. 

“Don’t let one community in the region elect the local sheriff, commissioners and state representative because of an allegiance to a party,” White said, suggesting voters vote for the best candidate. “We cannot allow party affiliation to undermine us in East Texas. We have got to come together,” he said. 

“Once the Republican Party understands we are ultimately judged by how we serve them, the Republican Party will govern better on education, govern better on health care, govern better on roads because we are the conscience of the state and country,” White said. 

White urged, “Stand tall, East Texas; unite, East Texas. We are all freed men.” 

Tim West, historian and owner of the plantation, recounted its history as one of the few pre-civil war plantations that existed in East Texas. “The Hambrick family moved here in 1852, bought 500 acres and started the house,” West said. The house was finished in 1854 and by then the owner had amassed 3,300 acres. 

“It was a very successful operation until the Civil War broke out, when Hambrick and others went off to the war, “West said. After the war, Hambrick deeded 3,100 of his 3,300 acres to his slaves, he added.  

Veterinarian Dr. Dwayne Collins, emcee, recounted the history of the country and the Emancipation Proclamation. “The end of slavery is a celebration for all Americans of all races,” Collins said. “Juneteenth is an American celebration,” he added.

 “Of the over 600,000 lives lost in the Civil War, over half were Union soldiers. Of those, the vast majority were white men dying for the cause of freedom for another race,” said Collins. 

Blake Garibaldi, of New Life Worship Center, sang patriotic music, including the national anthem and “America the Beautiful.”