City of Syracuse continues Juneteenth celebration
Over the weekend, community members gathered in Clinton Square in Syracuse to celebrate Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day the last enslaved African Americans learned of their freedom in Galveston, Texas in 1865.
Juneteenth became a federal holiday under President Joe Biden in 2021, making this just the third year it’s been recognized nationwide.
The Syracuse community, however, has been celebrating the holiday for over 35 years. Rachielle Scrivens, a volunteer for the Syracuse Juneteenth organization, said it is about recognizing ancestral history.
“It’s just to celebrate what our ancestors went through and give them their kudos,” Scrivens said.
Scrivens said the Syracuse celebration has grown over the years thanks to community partnerships.
“Before, it was held in one little section of the Southside of Syracuse, and now we have become downtown,” Scrivens said. “So a lot of community partners have made it possible for it to be expanded.”
For Scrivens, the holiday is an important part of recognizing ancestral and national history, just like any other federal holiday.
“There’s recognition that, you know, we matter,” Scrivens said. “That it’s important that we celebrate every other holiday, of course, Columbus Day, Presidents’ Day, that this needs to be celebrated too.”
This year’s celebration featured a flag raising outside city hall, a victory parade and a festival with live gospel and R&B music in Syracuse’s Clinton Square. For Syracuse, Onondaga NAACP President, Gwendolyn Muok, the celebration is a great way to connect with the community.
“It’s an automatic for us,” Muok said.