Community members gather for Juneteenth celebrations

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ELKHART, Ind.--Juneteenth is a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

To celebrate, many people gathered in Elkhart for the second annual Juneteenth celebration, which included music, food, speakers, a vigil, and more.

“We came together last year, we had thought that it’s been awhile since our town had been adequately celebrated Juneteenth and so we decided to come together and make sure that we get the word out and start making sure we started celebrating every year again,"  Organizer Antwon Williams Sr. said.

“We just want everyone to come together and share so that we can work together for a better tomorrow."

All Elkhart businesses and organizations owned by African American community members were asked to set up a booth at the celebration.

One of the organizers Donald Brown said that it’s important now more than ever to offer help and support local black businesses.

“Well I think if black businesses have a real importance into economy. I feel like if we would help the blacks more, economy worldwide would defiantly be better,” Brown said.

“We are here, we’re working hard, you know we got jobs you know we got businesses but sometimes we need that loan, that extra help and we just don’t get support from most of these other organizations.”

Canaan Baptist Church Pastor McNeal Stuart said that celebrations like this one is what cities need to come together and unite.

“This is what our community can bring, this is what our community can offer when we share in our history, in our culture,” Stuart said.

Over in Kosciusko County, non-profit organization One-Warsaw Celebrating Us hosted an Emancipation celebration in honor of Juneteenth at the Kosciusko County courthouse, also for the second time.

Attendees were asked to bring masks, leave their signs at home, and to gather in peace for prayer and healing.

“We’re here today to celebrate Juneteenth and talk about moving forward and what can be done and continue to heal the divides in our country, our big goal is to bring people together,” One Warsaw President Travis McConnell said.

The organizer of this gathering hopes that this celebration does just that, bring people together and heal.

“This is not only a celebration of the end of slavery for all people it is also a day for us to mourn, for us to grieve the loss of those people and also to heal, because I know in our community, we can heal,” organizer Sara Strahan said.

“By coming together, with prayer and with unity and with love—and we can go on to the next level.”

Both Elkhart and Warsaw organizers hope that people will continue to come out, come together, and unite for future events to come.

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