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Billings Juneteenth celebration in South Park

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Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-20 17:20:50-04

Several met on Saturday at the South Park gazebo for a Juneteenth celebration, the first as a national holiday.

Robert Brown, a member of the Black History Foundation, started the festivities asking "what is so special about Juneteenth Day?'

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KTVQ photo

He told the group about the national holiday signed into law by President Biden on Thursday.

Before the event started, he talked about the day's significnce.

"Juneteenth is actually the day when slavery was officially ended in the United States with General Granger coming in to Galveston, Texas in June 19, 1865," he said.

Brown also served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years.

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Robert Brown, Black History Foundation member.

"Some people call it a jubilee day celebration," he said. "We like to call it our independence day which doesn't take away from July 4th country Independence Day. Like I as I tell people, I wear this (U.S. Navy hat) proudly. I served my country."

Juneteenth has been celebrated in South Park since the 1990s, with the main focus being serving lunch to the homeless.


The band Frequency 852 provided the music.

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KTVQ photo

Before the vote and before the President signed the bill, Congressman Matt Rosendale stated his concerns.

"This is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of larger efforts to make critical race theory the reigning ideology of our country," Rosendale said. "Since I believe in treating everyone equally regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us, rather than our differences, I will vote no."

"Poppycock," Brown said in response. "My question to him is, since you think that it is divisive, and he had in his comment that he treats everybody the same, then I will ask him you as a Congressman, what have you done for me? What have you done for my people?"

Brown said now that Juneteenth is a national holiday, there are more chances for discussion.

"I've always said I would love to sit down on a one-on-one with a skinhead or white supremacist and honestly learn why they think the way they think," Brown said. "I don't mind talking about black history. If we don't talk about it, you're never going to learn it. And as long as you don't learn it, you're always going to have those doubts, questions, who we are."

He ended his short talk on stage saying he hopes this day becomes a day of action.