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Juneteenth celebration’s opening act will look at ‘The Great Migration’

In a tradition that is over 150 years old, Lawton-Fort Sill will recognize the Juneteenth holiday next month with a citywide celebration.

Juneteenth celebrates the day, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, that Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Each year the City of Lawton hosts a citywide celebration that kicks off with an opening ceremony at Fredrick Douglass Professional Development Center followed by a celebration with entertainment, food and fun in Harmon Park.

This year’s director for the opening ceremony is Mattie Butler. Butler wrote the script for the ceremony, the theme of which is “The Great Migration.”

“After the emancipation there was nowhere for black people to go,” Butler said. “So they began to migrate. Particularly to the north, Chicago, places like that. We’re doing this as our theme because it’s not something that’s taught in school.”

The opening ceremony will be presented as a narrative piece that incorporates song and dance. Butler, in addition to writing the narration, also finds songs that she believes will resonate with the theme and, along with the program’s musical director, Pauline Harris, and the artistic director, Helen Holder, incorporates them into the ceremony.

The Lawton Constitution

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