YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As we enter the month of June, the community is getting ready for the annual celebration of Juneteenth.

“Our main mission this year is to give information, build awareness and inspire others,” said Joseph Napier, chair of the Juneteenth week-long celebration.

Juneteenth is known as the day the last enslaved people were freed in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, two years after the emancipation proclamation.

“You know you had different moments in time where different slave owners had the opportunity to express that information but the slave owners in Galveston Texas wanted to keep that information buried so it literally took Union Army soldiers to come and enforce the law. So that’s part of our history, for sure, in America,” Napier said.

Napier has been holding Juneteenth celebrations for years, and it continues to grow. This year he has a week-long schedule of events.

“We just wanna, you know, tie it in in our local history to show that we had this history here as well. That we kind of recognize the ending of slavery. So just giving that moment, and also we’ll have honorees and spaces where we honor people in our community that are doing things as far as giving back to the youth or doing stuff on a business level as well,” Napier said.

The celebration begins on June 11, with a community clean-up and the Sankofa Ball. The last event will be on June 19, with the annual Juneteenth festival. Napier says the events will all incorporate a piece of history.

“Our theme for this year’s week-long celebration is Sankofa, and Sankofa means to go back and fetch,” Napier said. “To look back at through the history of Youngstown, there was an emancipation ball in 1865 so having these things come full circle is pretty neat, also we have the opportunity to teach that history as well.”

The full schedule includes:

June 11 – Community cleanup
June 11 – Sankofa Ball
June 18 – 6th Annual Juneteenth Brunch
June 19 – 2022 Juneteenth Cultural Festival

Anyone interested in participating in any of the events can click here for more information.