When young Martin McDonald and his parents traveled as slaves from Tennessee to Texas in the 1840s, his family could not imagine a future where they would be free. Years later, on June 19, 1865, the future of McDonald and Bastrop County were changed when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to announce the Civil War was over and slaves were freed. On Saturday, June 18, the property owned by McDonaldâ€™s family will be the centerpiece of the 2022 Bastrop County Juneteenth celebration.
The Juneteenth, â€˜Taste of Historyâ€™ event will be free to the public and will take place from 12p.m.-4p.m. at the historic Hopewell Rosenwald School located in Bastrop County at 690 Hwy 21 West in Cedar Creek. The celebration will feature foods that are historic to the African American community, whether dishes served to those who were enslaved, or cuisine that may originated in other places but modified based on available ingredients, the history of the dishes will be provided in keeping with the educational theme.
Juneteenth, derived from the word June and the date 19th, is the oldest nationally celebrated recognition of the ending of slavery. The announcement in Texas came two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Union states.
The Hopewell Community Club will host the open house, led by Elroy Williams who was married to Sophia McDonald, a direct descendent of Martin McDonald. The club has worked for nearly a decade to restore the school, and this is its first major public event since receiving an historic designation on July 15, 2015. There will be games, an antique sale, refreshments and, most importantly, conversations with former students and family members of those who attended the school.
The Hopewell Rosenwald School â€“ Cedar Creek was constructed in 1921-1922 with funds from the Rosenwald Rural School Building Program, established in 1917 for the educational advancement of African American children in the South. The programâ€™s CEO Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co. of Chicago, partnered with Booker T. Washington to help realize the schoolâ€™s mission of offering education to children of color. The school represents an important time in Texasâ€™ history when legally mandated separate â€“ but rarely equal â€“ accommodations for African American students were the norm throughout the southern United States
The Hopewell Community Club is under the fiscal umbrella of American YouthWorks, whose mission is to provide young people with opportunities to build careers and improve communities through education, training, and service to others.
The Juneteenth event is sponsored by Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, Resilient Bastrop County Initiative, Central Texas Network Weavers and Bastrop County Cares. The Hopewell Rosenwald School restoration project was primarily funded by the Department of Interiorâ€™s National Parks Service.
For information about the event, contact HopewellRosenwaldSchool@gmail.com or call 512-585-6092.