Almost 400 people packed the Old Central Cultural Center on Tuesday for the annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Banquet.
"We have come a long way," said former state representative Edwards, who sponsored legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday. "God has been good to us." RealPlayer MP3
"Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but he didn't say anything about Juneteenth being a holiday," Edwards noted. "It was House Bill 16 sponsored by then representative Al Edwards."
Edwards said the success of his work to make Juneteeth a holiday is important history to inspire young people.
"If I could do it, if I could go to school and leave drugs alone and if I could do it, having 15 sisters and brothers, dad and mother, neither one never went to college, if I could do it then they could do it too," Edwards said. "That was the purpose for me fighting so hard, when I was trying to get sponsors to support that bill, not for selfish reasons but so we could use it as a tool to help young folk become what they would like to be tomorrow."
Master of Ceremonies Doug Matthews said the event was to recognize Edwards for sponsoring the Juneteenth legislation and also to honor Galveston Grants and Housing Director Sterling Patrick, Samuel Collins and corporate sponsor Merrill Lynch, and the family of the late council member Reverend James Thomas, who worked with Edwards on the Juneteenth legislation. RealPlayer MP3
Matthews also announced that 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court.
Criss confirmed the news, citing "my strong sense of justice and my years of experience," as qualifications for seeking the high bench.