HITCHCOCK — Abraham Lincoln, Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass joined a Juneteenth celebration at the Stringfellow Orchards in Hitchcock on Saturday.
The three historical figures — brought to life by actors and historians Skip Critell, Tammy Kingston and Michael E. Crutcher — spoke to a crowd after the Hitchcock Juneteenth Parade, with Tubman and Douglass sharing the struggles and victories of their lives.
Appropriately for a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation from the porch of the Hitchcock home, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Sam Collins III, who owns Stringfellow Orchards with his wife, Doris, urged children at the celebration to listen to the re-enactor reciting the words and story of Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist leader who famously wrote about his life as a slave.
Collins used a Douglass saying to stress the importance of educating young people about history to build a brighter future.
“It’s much easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” he said.
Douglass, as acted by Crutcher, also referred to education as a means to build a better world.
“Without education, we become slaves to ignorance, to poverty, to crime, to drugs and alcohol,” he said.
Douglass told his life story, from his birth in slavery to his career as a renowned writer and orator fighting for civil rights.
Crutcher, who has played Douglass at places throughout the country and marked Juneteenth in Washington, D.C., last year, noted the resonance of celebrating Juneteenth in the county where the holiday began.
Tubman, as acted by Kingston, gave a dramatic retelling of her work as a leader on the Underground Railroad and as a spy for the Union during the Civil War.
Elsewhere in the county, a Juneteenth celebration was held at Kermit Courville Stadium in Galveston, and a parade in Texas City also marked the holiday.
The traditional Emancipation Proclamation Reading and Prayer Breakfast celebration at the historic Ashton Villa, 2300 Broadway, in Galveston is set for Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Other events are scheduled for next weekend, including a dedication ceremony for a Texas Historical Marker in Galveston marking the spot where the Emancipation Proclamation was read by U.S. Gen. Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865.
The annual Gospel by the Sea in Hitchcock and activities at the Old Central Cultural Center also commemorated the celebration.
Juneteenth not only celebrates the end of slavery, but is a milestone marking a spread of freedom that benefits all Americans, Collins said.
“Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom,” Collins said. “It’s a holiday that everybody should celebrate.”