South Bend preparing for annual Juneteenth celebrations

NOW: South Bend preparing for annual Juneteenth celebrations

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SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- Many across the nation are preparing for annual Juneteenth celebrations including folks here in Michiana like the South Bend Chapter Indiana Black Expo set to hold it’s annual events at LaSalle Park Saturday.

The newly recognized federal holiday on June 19th commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans back in 1865 and has gained popularity over the years following racial justice protests and calls for equality.

Organizers of South Bend’s annual event told ABC57 they hope it’s a start to bring unity to the community.

“As we know slavery ended in 1863 but it took two years for all slaves to know that they were free. So this becomes a Freedom Day that we really want to celebrate in the community we’ll have some great vendors here. We have merchandise vendors, food vendors, information vendors,” said Latorya Greene the Chapter President of the South Bend’s Indiana Black Expo

Greene said they’ve been putting on Juneteenth celebrations for the last three decades, but this will only be the second year the day is recognized as a federal holiday.

 “This now becomes another federal holiday for us to recognize as a country but also as we look at the African American community, it’s just a great day to be able to celebrate freedom.”

“A lot more businesses are starting to recognize it, giving employees the opportunity to come out and celebrate, have the day off and enjoy. So yes I think it’s real special that it’s now a federal holiday,” added longtime community organizer Murray Miller.

On Saturday LaSalle Park will be filled with Juneteenth festivities and organizers said they’re excited to bring this community together for a positive purpose.

“I think it’s real special it gives people in the neighborhood a chance to come out and enjoy good food, people, conversations, let them relax,” said Miller.

“We definitely encourage parents to bring for kids their teens for one learn about the history of Juneteenth and we have great resources that will be available and so it’s just a great opportunity for community as well as parents to learn about what’s happening in our community,” added Greene.

The celebration at LaSalle Park in South Bend goes from 12-5 pm and will feature local artists, a variety of vendors and even a basketball camp for kids.

Folks are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.

Click here for a list of celebrations this weekend across Michiana.

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