ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Juneteenth is being celebrated across the country and also in the Capital Region. Today has been a day many people have been waiting to celebrate in Albany.
Juneteenth is officially a national holiday thanks to a bill signed by President Biden this week. This day marks when in 1865 the last remaining enslaved people in Texas found out they were finally free more than two years after the emancipation proclamation was issued. One of today’s local celebrations was hosted by the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, Inc.
“This is a celebration of Black liberation. Black freedom,” says James Mitchell, Board member with the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, Inc.
Residents came together to celebrate African American culture right on South Pearl Street. “We’re here today to enjoy ourselves, celebrate our people, our culture, our heritage, and everything we’ve been through,” says Albany resident Summer Jordan.
“We shut down the street for a few hours, giving an opportunity for people to come out and embrace one another. We’ve had almost a year of no embracement, no recognition because of masks so we really wanted to take this day to highlight freedom, togetherness, comradely, family, and fun,” Mitchell says
2021 marks the first year that Juneteenth is an official public holiday in New York. The Albany county Legislature passed legislation in May to designate June 19 as a holiday for county employees.
“You see, we’re all united out here. We have all these businesses and you can see Black culture out here, the children playing. It’s beautiful. I think we should have this every year because Juneteenth is important,” says local business owner Davia Sanders. “It’s our Independence Day. It’s important to us.”
Over a dozen of local unique businesses and organizations came to show support at Saturday’s event. “It’s a community of culture, a community of family, a community of giving back and it’s just a blessing to be here,” says Frances Suggs, Organizer with The Redemption Church of Christ.