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Where to celebrate Juneteenth in the stateline

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - President Biden signed the Juneteenth Independence Day Act in June of 2021, making Juneteenth a national holiday, and celebrations will hit the stateline this weekend.

“Even though the emancipation proclamation was signed on January 1st 1863, the last enslaved people did not become free in the United States until June 19, 1865,” said Dr. Stanley Arnold, History Professor at Northern Illinois University.

First celebrated in Texas in the 1930′s, Juneteenth skyrocketed to a national holiday last year, celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.

“It’s about the broadening of American society, it’s about making this country a more inclusive one,” Arnold told 23 News.

If you would like to celebrate locally, the organization Juneteenth1865 is hosting a celebration at the music shell in Sinnissippi Park. The two day event will feature music, food, a graduation event, a talent show, and other competitions. This will be the organization’s 32nd year celebrating the holiday, and it will start at 3 p.m. Saturday.

“Paying 2000 dollars out in prize money, and we have a lot of gifts, a lot of cash gifts, that’s what people need, that’s what people like. So we’ll be giving away a lot of money,” organization founder Tommy Meeks said.

Additionally, there will be the chance to have conversations about the importance of coming together as a community, even when ideals are different.

“My truth is my truth but somebody else’s is their truth. If we can talk and kind of understand where people are coming from. We might be able to solve a lot of our problems in this country,” Meeks said.

A full list of the events at Sinnissippi park this weekend can be found here.

There will also be a celebration on Saturday June 18 in Beloit at Riverside Park. That event will run from 10 to 5 p.m.

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