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619 FreedomFest to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend

Recently made an official holiday in Illinois and the United States
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:09 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A milestone day in African American history will be celebrated in Davis Park Saturday afternoon.

619 FreedomFest was founded less than a year ago by its three members to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth, the day African American slaves actually became free on June 19, 1865. This weekend will be the first year the event will take place in Rockford.

“To me it’s almost more important than the fourth of July. It’s the day that I get to recognize ancestors family members who did not know that they were even free. to me it’s a way to honor my past and my ancestors. and I love it I just want to celebrate every moment of it,” said 619 FreedomFest Founding Member Ashley D. Williams.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday on Wednesday, and President Joe Biden followed that up with a bill making it a U.S. holiday Thursday.

“It’s a holiday that’s definitely very important to the AA community and we want to share that importance with everybody else,” said Williams. “We want to celebrate the actual day where we became free and let everybody know that history so it will never be forgotten.”

In addition to bouncy houses, rides, an obstacle course, and several vendors, attendees can get vaccinated on the mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Bus. Scholarships and awards will also be presented. Some NBA players may also attend Saturday’s event.

“The turnout, even if it’s low, we’re going to have fun. The goal is just to put back into the community, the goal is just to unify people and get the history of Juneteenth out and celebrate,” said Williams.

Tickets are required to attend the event and the concert, which features performances from singers like Fred Hammond. The event will take place from noon to 10 p.m. at Davis Park on Saturday.

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