Festival goers petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday

Juneteenth Petition
Festival goers sign a petition to spread the Juneteenth tradition across the nation.

News 8 Austin, TX
By Bonnie Gonzalez
June 20, 2009

(Austin, TX) - This year's Juneteenth BBQ celebration in Round Rock is a Texas tradition, and some attendees are petitioning Washington D.C. to make it a national one.

Pamela Cotton helped coordinate the event and says Round Rock is making history while celebrating it.

"It's historical for the city of Round Rock, because it's the first time they actually acknowledged it as a celebration with the festivities that we have here this weekend," Cotton said.

For 65-year old Sarah Young, who is fairly new to Texas, celebrating Juneteenth isn't anything new.

"When I was living in Buffalo, New York, It had been celebrated for quite some time, and my former church back in Buffalo - we participated each year," Young said.

Like Young, some don't see Juneteenth as just a holiday for Texas. They want the entire nation to recognize the day.

"It'll be fine with me. I don't see why not. Juneteenth would be fabulous," said festival goer Bob Cocchiarella.

The holiday enthusiasts are armed with a pen in hand to take action.

Cotton estimated there would be about 1,000 people at Round Rock's first Juneteenth celebration. They can come out to enjoy some BBQ , maybe buy something from the vendors, but what she really wants them to do is put their signature on a petition.

"We want all of our attendees to sign the petition so we have lots of signatures to send off to Washington D.C, so they can see how important it is to us that this be a federal holiday," Cotton said.

If Juneteenth does ever become a national holiday, Young knows it'll be a great feat.

"We went to an all black school, and I was a part of the integration and coming this far..it's really meaningful to know we've come this far," Young said.

Young hopes something as simple as pen and paper will help take our nation one step further.


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