Many in attendance at the Juneteenth Association of Tyler’s ninth annual Gospel Musical Explosion on Friday said they couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate Juneteenth.
Those at the event, held at People’s Missionary Baptist Church, honored Juneteenth with gospel songs and sang some of the same hymns that once helped many enslaved African-Americans get through their toughest moments.
“It was gospel that brought us where we are and when we (forget that) we cease to know our culture,” said Pastor L.W. McCowin, a member of the Singing Apostles.
Juneteenth commemorates the day word of slavery’s abolition reached Texas on June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
“In the 1860s, some of the slaves were trying to sing these kinds of songs to try to get free,” said Rosie Johnson, a Juneteenth Association of Tyler committee member.
She added that just as quilts, many hymns contained hidden messages that were designed to convey different messages.
During the ceremony, singers performed a variety of songs such as “Jesus Will Fix it,” “I Shall Wear a Crown,” “Holy Ghost Power” and more.
Synthia Walker, of Tyler, said she though attending the event was the perfect way to celebrate Juneteenth.
“That’s what we started from way back years ago,” Walker said. “Our forefathers did a lot of singing.”
Derrick Choice, the master of ceremonies at the event, said the musical gave participants a chance to reflect on their blessings and look forward to the future.
“We are here today to lift up the name of our Lord God Jesus Christ for what he did way back then and what he’s doing now,” Choice said.
IF YOU GO:
The Juneteenth Association of Tyler will hold its annual Juneteenth parade at 10 a.m. Saturday. The parade will begin at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Glenwood boulevards and conclude at Woldert Park, where food will be provided.