When I arrived in Tyler back in January, the first thing everyone I met told me about was Juneteenth, way before it became a national holiday or even a social media trending topic.

I have to admit that I wasn't ready. I thought folks was just blowing smoke but as we got closer and closer to the holiday, I began to understand its importance to this area. You see, I'm of the belief (and still do) that the fact that we're celebrating a day where slave owners got extra years of labor out of our ancestors despite the practice being outlawed 2 years before they "set us free" kind of makes no sense to me initially.

But just like everything else in our journey through the "wilderness of North America" we learned to take the things that was meant to do us harm and turn it into something that makes us great. Juneteenth is about remembering how we survived the racial terrorism, the unjust laws and the systematic oppression of our people and culture, to a celebration of the excellence we have achieved in spite of it all.

It was a day I won't soon forget. To see all the smiling faces as we rolled down MLK for the Juneteenth Freedom Parade to stopping through and supporting Black owned business and vendors to enjoying a great afternoon of music and fellowship at the Gospel & Blues Explosion, it was joy to be among my people full of love, pride and uplifting ourselves and our community.

While the rest of the country is just now catching on, Juneteenth has always been a major holiday for the Black community in Texas and nobody..I mean NOBODY does it bigger or better than East Texas. Steeped in a tradition that is surely going to be continued to be passed down to generations to come with its federal recognition, I'm very much looking forward to being here and celebrating this important day for many years to come.

Our sincere thanks to the Juneteenth Association of Tyler, The Tyler Metro Chamber of Commerce, Brookside Ranch and Event Center, Mass Connections Barber Shop and the Empire Lounge for an incredible weekend.

Tyler NAACP Press Conference 2020