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Juneteenth events lined up in Las Cruces


Local celebrations of Juneteenth, the June 19 federal holiday commemorating the end of chattel slavery in the United States, are planned across several days next week. 

On that date in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation in the final state where slavery was in practice. It has been referred to as America’s second Independence Day or Black Independence Day. 

Bobbie Green, president of NAACP Doña Ana County and a Las Cruces native, recalled attending celebrations of the day in Apodaca Park in her childhood, a festive time full of barbecued and home-baked foods, baseball and other games. Yet it became a federal holiday only in 2021. Over the years, Green said local Juneteenth observances developed to include an annual banquet with guest speakers as well as cultural and historical programming, in conjunction with New Mexico State University Black Programs.

“I think there is a lot of awareness (of Juneteenth) among Black community members,” Green told the Bulletin, “and not as much among other community members. It’s getting better now, because it’s a federal holiday.” 

The county NAACP’s banquet, to be held Friday evening, features Mitch Boyer as keynote speaker. Boyer, Green explained, is the great grandson of Francis Boyer, the founder of the Black homesteader colony of Blackdom in 1903. 

Located south of Roswell, the community farmed more than 13,000 acres and established a village that lasted until crop prices and lack of water drove residents away in the 1920s, according to the National Park Service, which administers Homestead National Historical Park in Chaves County.

Some of those families, including the Boyers, resettled in Vado, Green said, where Mitch Boyer has become a leader in the community. Green said his presentation would include historical images, adding, “He’s going to talk about some of the challenges and victories and the struggles of moving a family in the early 1900s during Jim Crow and beyond.” 

“I’m hoping Juneteenth will become as widely recognized as the Fourth of July,” Green said, “and it's an excellent opportunity to get some of the history out there that may not be widely known.”

Ticketing and more information on Friday’s banquet can be found at NAACPDAC.org.

June 14

4 p.m.: “Celebrating Juneteenth: Uplifting our successes.” NMSU’s Corbett Center outdoor stage.

June 15

2 p.m.: Juneteenth gospel showcase. Atkinson Recital Hall, NMSU.

6 p.m.: NAACP DAC Juneteenth banquet. Las Cruces Convention Center. 

June 19 (city, county and federal offices closed)

2-4 p.m.: “Launching of a legacy: Black programs and community” exhibit. Branson library, NMSU.

June 20-23

Jazz cultural series hosted by Derrick Lee at various locations and times. 

More information is available via NAACPDAC.org and BlackPrograms.nmsu.edu

Juneteenth, Las Cruces, New Mexico, NAACP, Black Programs, NMSU