WESTON, Mo. — Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Former Weston alderman Mike Goentzel made a promise two years ago.
Goentzel pledged to donate his entire city salary as an alderman, a little over $2,000, to ensure the city would be able to hold its first ever Juneteenth celebration.
“That $2,000 wasn’t going to make or break anybody, so I hope that I kind of start something here,” Goentzel said.
Goentzel said despite losing his bid for re-election to the board of alderman last month, he will keep his promise.
Juneteenth commemorates the day on June 19, 1865, when the last of the enslaved people in the South learned they had been liberated.
And the history of American slavery has a particular relevance in the city of Weston.
“Weston, Missouri, is right on the tail end of a little Dixie,” local historian Angela Hagenbach said.
Hagenbach is a fifth-generation resident of Weston. Her ancestors are buried at the city’s Laurel Cemetery, one of the only places in Missouri where enslaved people and free African-Americans were buried with the rest of the town’s population.
“I wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention that a lot of things that Weston is known for, the beauty and it’s glorious history — African-Americans had a part in that, a big part in that,” Hagenbach told FOX4.
Hagenbach is leading the effort to put together the city of Weston’s first annual Juneteenth celebration next month.
She said the ambitious production might not have come together without Goentzel’s generous gesture.
“He put his money where his mouth is, so I’m very appreciative of that,” Hagenbach said.