JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Juneteenth on Sunday, several Jacksonville organizations found ways to celebrate the now federal holiday early on Saturday.
One way was with the annual Freedom Walk parade through parts of downtown and Springfield.
It stepped off from North Davis Street at 10 a.m. Saturday and traveled down several blocks to the Ritz Theatre, where there was a festival.
This was the fourth year of the Freedom Walk, which honors June 19, 1865, the day 157 years ago when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, officially received word that they were free.
That was more than two years following the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Right now, I think we have a little more participation, and given the climate we’re in right now, I think it means a little bit more,” said Randall Hall with the MLK Memorial Foundation. “We don’t want to call this a ‘march.’ It’s more of a celebration -- a celebration of the sacrifices that were made for us. And this is an opportunity for us to show reverence to our ancestors, our forefathers, people who paved the way for us to be here today.”
Hall and many who were a part of the Freedom Walk said they want these events to be celebratory but also educational.
“Well, I don’t think you can start educating people too early. It’s a very important date. Juneteenth isn’t just Black history, it’s American history, and everyone should know it,” Hall said. “There are people my age who don’t really have a true understanding or grasp of what Juneteenth is, so we get them involved, we get the children involved, and hopefully we start a new generation of kids that’ll keep this tradition going forward.”