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Celebrations and commemorations held for Juneteenth around Chicago

Festivities, commemorations for Juneteenth all around Chicago
Festivities, commemorations for Juneteenth all around Chicago 02:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago and the nation on Wednesday celebrated Juneteenth—a day that commemorates the end of slavery, and is still being celebrated and now recognized 159 years later.

The origins of Juneteenth date back to June 19, 1865, when the last group of people enslaved in the southern U.S. were informed of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.  That day, thousands of Union soldiers reached Galveston Bay, along the northeastern coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, and announced that all enslaved people in the state were freed by executive order. 

Juneteenth National Independence Day became a legal public holiday in 2021, passed almost unanimously through both chambers of Congress before being signed by President Joe Biden.

Around Chicago Wednesday, Juneteenth was a family affair with food, fun, and games—but also history lessons for all generations.

"I'm enjoying myself," said Caroline Furdge. "It's all love, because we've got to come together and love ourselves, you know?"

Furdge celebrated freedom at the Dan Ryan Woods—where Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore (D-4th) welcomed hundreds, and so did Mayor Brandon Johnson.

"Juneteenth is every important for everybody—to learn about it, and just enjoy," Furdge said.

Furdge really had a good time once the house music came on.

To the north in Washington Park, the celebration of freedom continued on the grounds where Black History is already celebrated—as it is the location of the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

"Juneteenth at DuSable Museum, all the history all the culture—it's a marvelous thing," said Myke Scott, a cook at the South Side staple I-94 Ribs.

"and that the one thing we have to get back to is our own culture."

Scott ensured bellies were full in Washington Park Wednesday night. He also told everyone what Juneteenth means to him.

"Juneteenth is a celebration of once we gained our freedom—away from emancipating from the things that we all been hindered by in our lives," he said. "It's an outstanding moment for Blacks to come together, and all to come together to be a part of a marvelous celebration."

The celebration continued at Pottawattomie Park several miles to the north in Rogers Park—as kids hopped in bouncy houses.

Meanwhile, the Juneteenth Freedom Market took off at The Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave.

"We really just want to showcase like the greatness of the Black creative and entrepreneurial community in Chicago," said IB Majekodunmi, founder of Refine Collective.

Four years ago, Majekodunmi brought Black minority businesses together for an opportunity. Refine Collective has now grown to 60 vendors bringing thousands to The Salt Shed for a Day of Freedom to remember.

"I just want when people think of Chicago, to think of this," she said, "and to think, you know, of the space, the joy that's is within it."

Each of the celebrations this Juneteenth was different—and reflective of a bigger push toward highlighting minorities in the community, based on their passions.

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