CLINTON, Iowa — The Clinton Martin Luther King. Jr. Committee held its annual Juneteenth celebration on Sunday, June 19 at the Clinton Bandshell in Riverview Park.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865 that the last enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas learned from Union soldiers that they were free, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday has received more national attention in recent years, but organizers said Clinton has been celebrating Juneteenth for many years.
"A lot of people are unaware of what Juneteenth even means," said organizer Mardell Mommsen Flippen. "We are trying for equality amongst people, justice, and we're bringing that awareness."
Several local organizations set up booths during the event with educational and entertaining activities to help teach people about Juneteenth.
Organizers said it's a day to bring people in the community together.
"It's just something that's part of our heritage. All of our history is not pleasant, but until you learn from your history, you may repeat it, so we just want to make sure that people know" said MLK Committee member Kathryn Wynn-Calvin, "We need to celebrate that diversity and also come together whenever we can. Because in these days and times, we just need to remember that we are all part of the human race."
Dr. William Woods, a leader faculty member at the University of Arizona Global Campus, also spoke during the event about the history of Juneteenth and the importance of freedom.
"I want people to always think about, never do anything to give up your freedom, to always cherish it and live in it," Woods said. "No matter what walk of life that they come from, whether they're educated or lacking education, whether they are CEOs or people who are economically disadvantaged in anyway, that in their freedom, they can become something different."
Organizers said they look forward to holding the event again next year and hope to have even more vendors participating.