ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — President Joe Biden signed a law Thursday which makes Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. June 19 marks the day the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in 1865.
Over the past year, there’s been a nationwide focus on racial justice and inclusivity, sparking more attention towards holidays like Juneteenth.
“Just sheer enjoyment, just sheer happiness,” Irondequoit Town Councilmember Patrina Freeman said of the now federal holiday. Freeman said the Town of Irondequoit is organizing its second annual celebration for residents to get involved in the holiday.
“People are opening their minds and want to get involved in any way they can, no matter their race, ethnicity, or religion.”
Freeman said there will be music, crafts, speeches food trucks, performances and more.
“It evolved this year we have vendors, musical performances, young people have a whole 30 minute section they’re going to be doing original spoken words,” Freeman said. “We like to look at this as being a classroom where we can teach about not only about Irondequoit but also about our collective history as Americans.”
On Thursday, the City of Rochester also raised the Juneteenth Flag for the third year in a row, but for the first time to celebrate a federal holiday.
“This flag will wave in the wind serving as a reminder that we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go in order to eradicate the after effects of slavery,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said.
Speakers at the event included Mayor warren and Bennie and Prince Bates — the nephew and great nephew of Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin.
Gloria Johnson Hovey petitioned to fly the Juneteenth flag to fly outside City Hall three years ago.
“All towns are now challenged to, you know, live up to the representation of their communities and their larger communities that you know, now everybody can celebrate when we were all free,” Johnson Hovey said.
Nurse and ceremony attendee Sheila Rogers is an essential worker. She says she was grateful to attend. To be here and then, just witness history, I think that’s just amazing,” Rogers said.
The Irondequoit celebrations will be held Friday, 6 p.m. at the Gazebo on the Irondequoit Town Hall Campus.
More Juneteenth events around Rochester:
- Boys & Girls Club is hosting a Juneteenth picnic at 500 Genesee Street on Friday from 1 to 4 p.m.
- 2nd annual Juneteenth Teen Poetry Slam at the Highland Bowl, 6 p.m.
- Honoring Juneteenth with the Genesee Country Village & Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Juneteenth Annual Bike Ride with ROC Freedom Riders, 10 a.m.
- Juneteenth Celebration with Brothers & Sisters Unisex Salon, 2 to 7 p.m.
- ERASE 2nd annual Juneteenth Celebrations at Irondequoit Town Hall, 2 to 4 p.m.
- 1st annual Juneteenth co-ed youth basketball tournament, 10 a.m., Josh Rojas Park
- Rochester Juneteenth 5K run/walk
- Free admission, parking to Strong Museum for Juneteenth celebration
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