Cheers and reflection as crowds mark Juneteenth

Saturday was the first Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and celebrations across the country sparked cheers and jubilation, but also prompted quieter reflections about racial justice.

Crowds gathered on Saturday to mark the holiday commemorating the end of the legal enslavement of Black Americans with concerts, rallies, art displays and lots of food.

In Galveston, members of the Texas Dancin' Divas danced in the streets during a parade.

In New York, marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge advocated for racial equality.

In Kentucky, Milan Bush, the organizer of the Miday Juneteenth Festival, said the day is a celebration.

“Joy, that we are not just thinking about this event as ending enslaved people’s lives but also thinking about the joy that bring in remembering who they are and recognize not just black people as a unit of people but as individuals.”

Harrodsburg Resident Kathryn Vandyke said the holiday should bring people together.

"There are some racial issues here in town. We try to heal the best we can and try to get things like this together to bring people back together not just the Black community but let the White community come in and celebrate with us.”

Juneteenth, or June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when a Union general informed a group of enslaved people in Texas that they had been made free two years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday signed a bill making Juneteenth the eleventh federally recognized holiday, just over a year after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited nationwide protests for racial justice and for ending police brutality.

On Saturday a new statue of George Floyd was unveiled in Brooklyn as part of the celebrations.

This year's festivities were also notable as it was the first country-wide event where crowds were able to gather in-person and meet face-to-face without fear - and often, without masks - as the pandemic ebbs in the U.S.

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