Two members of the Las Vegas Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club craned their necks skyward Monday afternoon as they raised a blue-and-red Juneteenth flag outside Henderson City Hall Monday afternoon.
The flag raising ceremony helped kick off the city’s planned commemoration of Juneteenth, a federal holiday that takes place annually on June 19th to celebrate the last slaves being freed in Galveston, Texas.
Judy Ann Young, chaplain of the Las Vegas Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, offered an invocation at the beginning of Monday’s ceremony.
“On this day I give thanks to all of our ancestors, freed or non-freed, I give thanks for the Juneteenth committee, to our state government, to the city of Henderson, that saw fit to honor Juneteenth,” she said.
Henderson Councilman Dan Stewart spoke about the importance of the city commemorating Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth gives our community and even our nation pause and helps us remember just how important this day is,” Stewart said. “Our country has recognized Juneteenth as a national holiday, and Henderson is proud to join the state of Nevada in doing the same.”
Stewart wrapped up his short speech by handing a proclamation honoring the holiday to Deborah Evans, who is president of Juneteenth for Nevada.
Evans then took to the podium to share what the celebration of the holiday means to her.
“Look at those flags,” Evans said. “They’re beautiful. They represent freedom. They’re drawing attention to the story so we can share it with those who have not heard it before.”
Evans also recognized the local Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club members at the event and how their work supports Juneteenth.
At the conclusion of her speech, two Buffalo Soldiers raised the flag into the sky as the crowd gathered outside applauded.
The Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club’s main mission, according to its official Facebook page, is to, “educate the public on the history of the African Americans of the 9th and 10th Calvary who sacrificed their lives so that our country could be what it is today.”
“Juneteenth is an important part of Black history and we represent Black history, as far as the African American soldiers that fought from the Civil War all the way to World War II and beyond so it’s very important for us to be apart of this,” said Dave McKinney, the club’s secretary. “One of our mottos is to educate America and the world on Black History, especially historical facts that aren’t in history books.”
The city of Henderson will hold multiple events at the Water Street Plaza this month during a three-day Juneteenth Festival. Events include a play on June 16 about Harriet Tubman, one of the creators of the underground railroad that helped enslaved people get to freedom; songs of freedom by the Vegas City Opera on June 17; and a celebration of live poets and exhibits on June 19.
More information about the events can be found on the city of Henderson website.