Rochester Branch of NAACP breaks down history at Juneteenth celebration

Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Sunday is the official day of the nationally recognized holiday Juneteenth, but today Rochester celebrated its 17th annual Juneteenth celebration at MLK park.

Juneteenth is a day to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States.

“Today, a century and a half later, people across the United States continue to celebrate today which is now a federal holiday,” Rochester Branch of NAACP President Walé Elegbede said.

While some may think slavery ended in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it actually ended 1865 when the enslaved people of Texas finally received word that they were free.

“Technically from the Union’s perspective, the 250,000 slaves in Texas were already free, but none of them we aware of it,” Rochester Branch of NAACP Vice President W.C. Jordan said.

While communities across the country have been celebrating Juneteenth for years, the holiday only recently became a national holiday.

“On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19 as a federal holiday,” Jordan said.

Members of the Black community celebrating the day, but also recognizing issues that the community is still facing today.

“In many ways, June 19 represents how freedom and justice in the United States has always been delayed for Black people,” Jordan said.

The Rochester Branch of the NAACP members say they want to represent their community and help fight for racial justice.

“We continue to fight hard for you in our vision as a society where there is no racial discrimination or hatred. We believe we lift everybody up through equity and social justice,” Elegbede said.

The Rochester Branch of the NAACP has hosted a Juneteenth celebration since 2005. The first celebration has held at Soldiers Field downtown.

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