ODESSA, TX (KWES) - A record 10,000 people are expected at this year's "Juneteenth" festivities in Odessa, organizers said.
"We, here in West Texas, run our event three days," said Tommie Haynes, a Black Cultural Council of Odessa committee member. "This is the biggest Juneteeth celebration in the state."
June 19, 1865 marked the day Union soldiers landed at Galveston with news that the war had ended and slaves were now free.
"And that's something to be thankful for," said Haynes, noting that it took two years for news of the Emancipation Proclamation to spread. "It's a joyous thing to know that we were free when we did get the information."
However, festival attendee Frizella Whitiker told NewsWest 9 she felt "freedom" hasn't necessarily translated to "equality."
"It doesn't mean that we're on equal footing, because we're not," she explained. "There's so much that this hasn't unraveled and made possible."
Something the community has taken great strikes to improve, said other Juneteenth revelers, is diversity.
"It's not only our African American community [celebrating Juneteeth weekend]," said Odessa resident Rob Jenkins. "It's also our white community and our Hispanic community. We're all meshing together, coming out together, bringing the kids and supporting each other."