YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Community leaders in Youngstown are holding a Juneteenth celebration in an effort to create unity within the city.

It will be one of the first events held at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater this summer.

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. In 1863, the emancipation proclamation was signed, ending slavery. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that people who were enslaved in Texas were told they were free. On that day, the Union Army went down to Texas and announced they would be freeing nearly a quarter of a million people.

In 2020, groups like the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) in Youngstown and the radio station LOUD 102.3 Youngstown feel it’s important now more than ever to celebrate that day to bring people from all walks of life, ages and races together.

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown, clergy, and the Youngstown Police Department are all taking part in the remembrance that will include live music, food, and a celebration of black culture.

While it’s a day of fun, it’s also a day to learn and talk with each other about how policy gets changed to have a more just country.

“This is a wonderful way to bring unity in our own community, but this is also a platform and a launchpad for conversations that we must have in this community and some tough ones, so this is a way to bring everybody together,” said Guy Burney, CIRV director.

Burney added that the work has to be done after the celebration, too.

Mayor Brown will be speaking at the event, along with Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees, about ways they’re working to keep the community fair and just. There will also be a moment of prayer for lives lost.

“Unity is power in numbers. I want people to come leave refreshed, I want people to leave excited for the city. It’s not just a divide with law enforcement, and the people I want to bridge the gap between is the elderly and the young and the clergy and so were inviting everybody,” said Chip Banks, local Juneteenth celebration leader.

The free event will take place on Saturday, June 20 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater.

For more information, call 330-559-4563.

Organizers are working with the Department of Health to follow social distancing guidelines.

There will be hand sanitizer stations and gloves available. People are encouraged to wear masks, and temperatures will be taken at the gate to ensure the health of others.