As the train horn screamed and its wheels rumbled on the tracks, the intense words of former Navasota City Councilwoman Mildred Edwards towered over the sounds of the train like the clocktower at Navasota City Hall (where she was speaking) towers over the city.
Edwards was the guest of hon or and led the Navasota Freedom March Friday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth. “If you don’t stand up for something you will fall for anything,” said Edwards to the crowd. “Today I am standing up for freedom.”
The march began at Navasota High School and concluded at Navasota City Hall. This was the second planned march in Navasota, the “Bridging the Gap” march took place Saturday, June 13. “I don’t know how many marches it’s going to take but we need to keep marching. We can only make progress by being consistent,” explained Edwards.
Edwards, the first and only African American woman to serve as a Navasota City Councilwoman believes Navasota can be a model city. “I like to think that Navasota can be a model city for other cities to learn how to unite and move forward.”
Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in Texas. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official Jan. 1, 1863. Two and a half years after, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston with news the war had ended and the enslaved were now free.
“A very important man once said, how can you have a future without knowing your past,” said Edwards. “We know our past. And those of you who don’t know your past need to study and learn. That is the only thing you have to build on is your past. I don’t know if you came from a good or bad environment, but it is up to you to prepare yourself for a better one.
Edwards said there is good and bad in everyone. “It is not the color of your skin but the content of your character. I have some good friends that are not my color. As a matter of fact, some of them are better than some of my color. I wish we could all be friends though.”
The celebration of freedom began with a prayer by Grimes County Attorney John C. Fultz. There were also prayers by Pastor Sheldon Hadnot, Pastor Rolando West and Minister Myra Prosper Dickinson. Marquisha Culbreath, Bryant Harris and Terrance Creeks also ministered in song.
View the full video of the Freedom March on the Navasota Examiner Facebook page.