JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The third annual Juneteenth Freedom Walk Parade drew crowds together Saturday to recognize the emancipated ex-slaves’ journey from slavery to freedom.
President Joe Biden signed a bill Thursday that was passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday.
The basis of walking a parade route was to recognize ex-slaves journey, one from slavery to freedom.
Gary Thomas is the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation and was at the parade which trekked through Springfield and downtown, ending at the Ritz Theater and Museum.
“We even had a young lady with her baby in a stroller walking in this parade,” Thomas said. “It was so beautiful. It was so beautiful I almost cried.”
The parade also helps educate much of America less familiar with the now federal holiday which memorializes the date slavery finally ended in the United States.
“Today is the 9th annual Juneteenth in Jacksonville celebration,” Thomas said. “We just concluded our freedom walk parade. We’re about to get ready to really celebrate Juneteenth and we’re celebrating Juneteenth in an educational manner. We’ve got books, we’ve got Juneteenth history books that we printed to distribute to people that have little knowledge about Juneteenth.”
The celebration started with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his troops arrived at Galveston on June 19, 1865, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
The next year, the now-free people started celebrating Juneteenth in Galveston. Its observance has continued around the nation and the world since.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.