YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The community came together at the Debartolo Stadium Club at Youngstown State University for a Sunday brunch to kick off Youngstown’s Juneteenth celebration.
It follows Youngstown Juneteenth’s downtown cleanup event. The June 19 holiday recognizes those who had been enslaved in the United States.
The gathering honored those in the community that have made an impact and included a speaker and awards ceremony.
“It’s kind of a kickoff for this whole week of Juneteenth and we wanted to celebrate people in the community that are having a positive impact on others and doing positive things to keep people moving forward in life,” said executive director of Hope Community Services Joncquil Hope.
There were 10 honorees recognized Sunday afternoon.
“They are educating others. They are uplifting others, and that’s really important,” Hope said.
Among those honored was Kelan Bilal, who was given the Trailblazer Award for their love of community, culture and education.
“I love the community. I love to build, help build and grow our community,” Bilal said.
Among Bilal’s community work is the creation of a program that helps with child literacy.
“It’s for students K-3, each Monday throughout the summer we have an event where people come out and speak and read to the students. So the mayor, council people and everything like that… they’ll read to them and then the kids will read back to us. It’s about developing literacy,” Bilal said.
Youngstown Juneteenth will hold more events throughout week. A full list and schedule is available on their website.