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'A new day in Pflugerville' | Pflugerville Juneteenth celebration highlights history, hope

With racial justice marches and protests continuing throughout the country, this year's Juneteenth had heightened awareness.

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — The Pflugerville Juneteenth celebration filled the pavilion at Lake Pflugerville on Saturday afternoon.

Speakers and singers reminded people of the history behind the holiday and celebrated the liberation of the last enslaved people in Galveston in 1865. 

"It signifies the strength and tenacity of my ancestors because if they had not said, 'I'm not going to break; I'm not going to bend; I'm going to fight,' I would not be here today," Alicia Jackson, president of Black Pflugerville, said.

The event also took a closer look at racism in Pflugerville, specifically about the Colored Addition. Jackson and City Councilmember Rudy Metayer talked about how Black people were segregated from the rest of the town and how much work needs to be done to improve that area of Pflugerville.

Metayer said he celebrates Juneteenth with his family every year. Every year, it's a day of hope. With racial justice marches and protests across the country shedding more light on the holiday, this year's Juneteenth is a bit different.

"We really do have an opportunity for change," Metayer said. "It's even more amazing because you think to yourself, 'Hey, wait a minute, if we can go ahead and change what happened back there [in 1865], why don't we have the power and the ability to change what's happening right now?' It doesn't matter what race, color or creed you come from, when we're talking about Juneteenth, it's not Black history; it's American history."

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To help explain that for kids, Black Pflugerville brought in some people cosplaying as Black superheroes like Frozone, from "The Incredibles," Spider-Man, as Miles Morales in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse," and Storm, from X-Men. They helped explain racial inequality that even superheroes face.

"Kids have the luxury of having an imagination, and they have the luxury of having an open mind that hasn't been skewed by real-world events yet," Bradley Spears, cosplaying as Frozone, said. "I feel like it's almost our responsibility to try and nurture that as soon as possible and say, 'Hey, it's OK to have a difference of opinion. It's not OK to be uneducated.'"

"As we get these kids together, we can show them each one of [them] are going to have different experiences in life with the same thing," Afsaneh Ortiz, cosplaying as Storm, said. "How [they] are affected with that, that's how we're going to help [them] manage and be able to survive in the world against all discrimination. It's hard. It's a hard world."

Jackson hopes this event will continue every year in a community setting. After the celebration ended, many joined the memorial parade in Pflugerville.

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