Morgan Park, Beverly celebrate Juneteenth, now an official municipal holiday in Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS) -- This is the first year the City of Chicago is recognizing Juneteenth as a municipal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas finally learned they were free -- two years after the emancipation proclamation.
In Chicago, Juneteenth means celebrating! The Morgan Park neighborhood held a major celebration for the occasion Saturday, including a live concert and a footwork performance during intermission.
Even though this is the first time the city is recognizing Juneteenth, Black Chicagoans have been celebrating the holiday for years.
From young kids immersing with the Chicago Bulls bucket boys to Djumbe drumming lessons, the Beverly/Morgan Park Juneteenth festival had many selections to celebrate the holiday.
"It's a wonderful acknowledgement, but it's also, I think, a deep reminder of how much work there is left to do to reach true equality," said Beverly resident Mildred Williamson.
Williamson has lived in the Beverly neighborhood for 46 years and says she's never seen a celebration this big for Juneteenth.
"This is a community that is interracial, but something this expressive that actually brings forward this inclusiveness, this is a new milestone."
With the help of many community partners, Shanya Gray put together Beverly/Morgan Park Juneteenth Family Festival back in 2019, before it became a federal holiday.
"It's the perfect holiday to really recognize the history of what happened and to celebrate our existence and to celebrate our culture and our tradition and to remind people we all belong here," she said.
A couple of blocks down the street, festivals continued with the Juneteenth Morgan Park, which filled the former Jewel parking lot near Halsted and 115th Street
Williamson said as we move foward from that significant day in 1865, her neighborhood still has a long way to go.
"With the history of Chicago and how segregated we all are, this is one of those communities that's not completely segregated, but we're not as far along as we could be," she said.
Organizers of the event said as part of the celebration, there would be a moment of solidarity for Juneteenth.
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