LAWTON, Okla._Lawton's annual Juneteenth celebration kicked off at Elmer Thomas Park at noon Friday with food, music and fun.
Members of the community say Friday's celebration is a time for everyone to recognize the struggles of their ancestors who emerged from slavery 150 years ago to create a new way of life for generations to come.
It was on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with the news of the war ending and the enslaved were now free. Organizers say it's a story that needs to be repeated, so no one forgets the difficult journey they've had.
Palmer Moore Jr. says the cause for celebration in Lawton is for younger generations to understand the meaning behind it.
"This right here is an educational boundary builder for both of us. For the community, the understanding of Juneteenth, what it means, the significance of it and how we can grow from it," said Moore.
Moore says Friday's celebration is a way of reaching out to the youth of Lawton and he says they are his number one priority.
"We all have to be together at one time to build in one direction and that's our youth, because our youth is more dominant," said Moore.
Moore is not alone when it comes to supporting the area's youth. Sherene L. Williams is another driving force when it comes to realizing the importance of young people in Lawton.
"Just coming together, communicating and let the children know that we can make a difference in your life. We need you," said Williams.