ADA — Ada residents recently celebrated June 19, or "Juneteenth" as it has been come to be known as at Hammond Heights Park Saturday. The event is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.

"What's written is that June 19 is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day and is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery," Custer R. McFalls, speaker for the event, said. "The holiday originated in Galveston, Texas. History tells us that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken affect Jan. 1, 1863. It didn't have an immediate affect on most slaves or slave life in that particular time in Texas. On June 19, 1865, the Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston to take possession of the state and bore slaves new freedoms."

It was during this time that General Granger's first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas General Order Number 3, which stated "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.

This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

Ada Mayor Donna York was on hand to present the Rev. Charles R. Hill with a proclamation, designating June 17 as “Charles R. Hill Day” for his significance within the African American community.

"It's a privilege for me to be here to represent the city of Ada," York said. "Reverand Hill played a key role in the development of the Northside Chamber of Commerce and has been involved in many projects to help improve the infrastructure of Hammond Heights."

The event also consisted of performances by the Children's Community Choir, activities for families and a gospel concert featuring local church choirs.

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