YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown celebrated Juneteenth on Saturday, a day that signifies when the last slaves in America were freed after the Civil War.
It took two years after the war ended for slaves in Galveston, Texas to learn they were freed.
“Why is Juneteenth so important? C’mon, we needed a day,” said entertainer DJ Swin. “Juneteenth is important because it’s ad ay in our country to commemorate the history and what African Americans are doing in the country today.”
Saturday’s celebration brought together businesses leaders, activists, artists, friends and family.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity for small black businesses to unite and do something positive. To represent our culture,” said local businesses owner Jovan Robinson.
One mother at the evvent came from Pennsylvania, and said she brought her children, who are biracial, to Youngstown’s Juneteenth event to learn more about their heritage.
“I wanted my girls to understand the importance of why they are free now. Because I am deaf and hard of hearing, I want to make sure they understand deaf, the Black history and how we all intermix here,” said participant and mother Renee Allen.
Many people braved the rain and brought umbrellas to stay dry. The overall atmosphere was like a big party.
Some people at the event said they are happy Juneteenth is a federal holiday, but that there are still obstacles people of color face.
“It’s bittersweet, a double-edged sword thing because the recognition and the acknowledgement is good but it’s one of those things, kind of like ‘Here’s a treat to smooth everything over, but we’re not going to talk about the real issues,'” said artist James Major Burns.
“We don’t want it to become one of those holidays… where you get those Bath and Body Works Juneteenth candles and a special drink of the one day,” Major Burns said.