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"It's just marvelous": Philadelphia's first-ever Juneteenth mural unveiled in Germantown

Philadelphia's first-ever Juneteenth mural unveiled in Germantown
Philadelphia's first-ever Juneteenth mural unveiled in Germantown 02:01

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Germantown community got a head start in celebrating Juneteenth Saturday by unveiling a first-of-its-kind mural in Philadelphia.

People erupted in cheers as they watched the unveiling of the first-ever Juneteenth mural in Philadelphia.

"To have a story really reflected from beginning to freedom I think it's just really powerful, and I just look forward to the community being empowered by the image day in and day out as they travel throughout the community," artist Keisha Whatley said.

The over 1,000 square foot piece of art was painted by Whatley and the community. It's on the side of the Germantown ArtHaus.

Whatley says the piece is made up of three parts of history including images of Africans in their homeland, diagrams of the transatlantic trade of enslaved people, and finally the celebration of Juneteenth.

"I wanted it to literally be a layer-by-layer story from the bottom up," Whatley said.

She hopes her art serves as a way to honor June 19th, 1865. The day that the last enslaved people in the United States learned that they had been freed under the emancipation proclamation.

"I really wanted to capture the moment enslaved people were told and realized that they were free, and they were walking out," Whatley said.

The historic piece served as a backdrop during this year's Juneteenth Festival in Germantown where Whatley's cousin came out to sell her own artistic wooden creations.


"She has been doing these kinds of things all throughout her life," Elizabeth Whatley said. "Makes me very proud to be a Whatley."

For many at the festival, they say watching this holiday evolve throughout the years in Philly has been empowering for them and their community.

"It's just marvelous," Elizabeth Whatley said. "I'm so glad it's a national holiday so now everyone will now learn about the history."

A celebration of freedom that many say has taken a long time to finally be recognized.

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