Grambling’s Juneteenth festivities underway

Pictured are onlookers releasing balloons during Monday’s 2023 Juneteenth Opening Ceremony in front of Grambling’s City Hall. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright


Balloons filled the sky over Grambling City Hall floating toward Grambling State University Monday morning as the city officially began its Juneteenth 2023 celebration with an opening ceremony.

After District 1 Lincoln Parish Police Juror Hazel Hunter presented the ceremony’s opening welcome, Grambling Mayor Alvin Bradley reminded onlookers that while they  were attending the opening ceremony, the city’s actual Juneteen festivities got underway Sunday night with a Gospel concert performed at Mt. Zion Baptist Church  by local musicians and singers.

“It really began last night with a spirit-filled celebration,” Bradley said. “That was a good way to get us started. It was hosted by Mt. Zion Baptist Church and hosted by our Juneteenth Committee.

“The city of Grambling is thrilled to be hosting our 2023 Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day. It’s celebrated on June 19 to make the day in 1875 when a Union soldier arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all enslaved people were free. This was more than two-and-a-half years after President (Abraham) Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, and about six months before the 13th Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.”

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation only applied to people enslaved in areas currently in rebellion and they are specifically listed in the proclamation. Once approved, the 13th Amendment would apply to all enslaved people across the entire United States.

“Juneteenth is a time to celebrate African American history and culture,” Bradley said. “And we will be doing some of those events this week. Juneteenth reflects on the past, engages in the present and commits to the work necessary to create a prosperous future.

“Our theme this year is “Celebrate,  Communicate and Educate” as we engage as a community to welcome our visitors, enjoy all the festivities that the Juneteenth Committee has worked tirelessly to prepare for our enjoyment.”

After the crowd sang “Lift Every Voice” and a more thorough review of Juneteenth history was presented, balloons were passed out and launched into the air after Grambling Police Chief Tommy Clark added a Juneteenth Flag below the American Flag and Louisiana State Flag flying in front of City Hall.

Those in attendance were reminded that a Juneteenth Genealogy Workshop is set for 10 a.m. – noon Friday at Lincoln Preparatory School, located at 1453 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. (Old Grambling Road).

That event was originally slated for today.

But tonight’s schedule does include a return of “Conversation Under the Tent,” an old staple of Grambling’s Juneteen celebration, from 6 – 8 p.m. at Grambling City Hall.

That event has been renamed the “Thelma S Williams Conversation Under the Tent” in honor of the longtime noted 95-year-old Grambling historian.