EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — On this day back in 1865 enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their emancipation which is now commemorated as Juneteenth many across Northeastern Pennsylvania got together to celebrate.
Festivals, barbecues, and ceremonies took place Sunday honoring the federal holiday. Eyewitness News checked in with local organizations in both Monroe and Luzerne counties about how they are spreading the meaning behind Juneteenth.
“Start celebrating it, teaching their families, kids, everyone about it, spread the word,” said Nichele Brown, President of the National Council of Negro Women, Greater Pocono.
Sharing the message of Juneteenth that’s the meaning behind the National Council of Negro Women Greater Pocono and the local NAACP chapter’s festival in Tobyhanna.
“Someone said if you don’t know your history, you don’t know where you’re going and we always want our scholars to know where they’re going so it’s important that they witnessed this, they get to interact and engage with their ancestors and elders,” explained Dr. Marilyn Brown, V.P., National Council of Negro Women, Greater Pocono.
Juneteenth refers back to June 19th, 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned of their emancipation.
Now unity and freedom are celebrated across the country.
“It’s a way to bring people together. You look around, you see the vendors of every race, color, and creed, and we’re happy to have everyone together celebrating with us,” stated Tameko Patterson, Vice President of the NAACP in Monroe County.
In Wilkes-Barre a new sign stands in place at the former Coal Street Park, now named the ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.’
Officials with the NAACP Wilkes-Barre chapter say the renaming process has been two years in the making.
“We are so excited that we were able to get juneteenth, get this park. Father’s day, with all those different interconnected things, it just makes the event that much bigger so we are super excited about that,” added Jimel Calliste, President, NAACP of Wilkes-Barre
“I’m just so humbled with everything going on, I’m just so happy that we were able to get to this point,” said Melissa Rivers, Vice President, NAACP of Wilkes-Barre.
NAACP Secretary Flora Jenkins says the holiday and the renaming are even more important for young children.
“To see the history of Martin Luther King, letting them know how he did so much for segregation, injustice,” said Flora Jenkins, Secretary for the NAACP of Wilkes-Barre.
Two amazing events in our area, the Wilkes-Barre NAACP chapter tells Eyewitness News because of Sunday’s success they’re looking to make it an annual event.