Boys & Girls Club celebrate Juneteenth with the Notre Dame coaches, athletes

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SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- The Boys & Girls Club of St. Joseph County celebrated Juneteenth with Notre Dame coaches and student athletes on Monday.

The official holiday on Sunday, June 19th, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865, when the news of freedom reached everybody in the U.S.

The festivities at the club featured music and activities, as well as education behind the celebration, and provided a chance for kids  to meet with local black role models in Michiana.

“This day is very special. African Americans, the last African Americans we’re freed,” said 6th grader Jonathan Giden.

“It’s important because we’re learning more about culture,” added Kira Simmons, who’s also going into the 6th grade.

Kids at the club who celebrated Juneteenth Monday also got the chance to connect with two black Fighting Irish head coaches, women’s basketball Coach Niele Ivey and football Coach Marcus Freeman.

Both echoed the importance of recognizing the Freedom Day with the community.

“We want to be a part this day with our community and really we’re having really good conversations with the young people here to continue to find ways to enhance our community,” said Notre Dame Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman.

“Celebrating freedom of African Americans especially having so much diversity here, diversity in my staff and my players it’s important. It’s important to celebrate together,” added Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Head Coach Niele Ivey.

Staff and students said they were glad to celebrate the day with the sports icons and get the opportunity to learn about the true meanings behind the holiday.

“I never learned about Juneteenth when I was younger. So I think having a community where the Notre Dame boys and girls basketball comes out to a community like this and comes and supports this type of event I think it’s very impactful,” explained Viviana Blount, a Youth Development Coordinator with the organization.

“It’s important because when we get out into the real world we'll know more,” added Simmons.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller also joined Monday’s Juneteenth festivities, which the Boys & Girls club hopes to make an annual event.

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