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Hoosiers celebrate freedom with Juneteenth weekend festivals

For many, the day has been a treasured tradition for generations.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday is Juneteenth. It commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S after the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free more than 150 years ago.

Juneteenth weekend is all about celebrating freedom for all Americans.

While some people may still be learning about this federal holiday, for many, the day has been a treasured tradition for generations.

"My family made sure I knew about Juneteenth. There was no celebrating July 4th," said Nilah Kinney.

The festival organized by Indy Juneteenth at White River State Park and the Juneteenth Parade were two of many events marking the holiday across Indianapolis.

People enjoyed good vibes, food, and fun all while celebrating and learning about Black culture. Kinney and Symone Hawkins said, for them, Juneteenth means the ability to be unapologetically themselves.

"I feel like if I didn't know my history I would be gone. It's a big part of who I am," said Kinney.

"You like to go out and see people who look like you and celebrate being you," said Hawkins.

A woman named Neshaun said between the parade, festival, and dozens of events there's something for everyone. 

"While we are celebrating Black culture, it's not limited to people who are a part of that culture. We want everyone to come down to enjoy the culture and enjoy what we are celebrating and enjoy what we live our lives like every day," she said.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett commemorated the day with a special proclamation that honors the history of Juneteenth and its power to transform communities.

"It only gets bigger and better every year. You have people from all walks of life, all colors, religions, and all backgrounds. Every corner of our community coming together as one city and that gives me hope for the future," said Hogsett. 

That future is being written by the people at the event.

"May God forever bless Juneteenth and all the people that it seeks to acknowledge and represent," said Hogsett. 

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