LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Today is June 19, also known as Juneteenth. It is a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Back in 1865, slaves in Texas were the last to learn they were free, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
One of the larger events 8 News Now covered tonight was at Lorenzi Park in Las Vegas near Washington and Valley View. It was all about bringing the community together.
Families came to Lorenzi Park all afternoon, where there were different activities and tents set up, all to celebrate Black culture on this historic day.
“It’s been, like, so much craziness going on across the country and in our city,” said Nekesta Shelton, “and I just felt like it was a good day and a good time to come out.”
Anthony Gatewood noted, “It’s important to celebrate it as a first step. Let’s not get carried away. This is not the end. We want a lot more than this, but our acknowledgement throughout history needs to be documented.”
Performers put on quite the show toward the beginning of the festivities. Everyone celebrated what it means to be Black and honored their heritage and history.
But this year’s Juneteenth falls in the midst of an incredible amount of pain for the Black community.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen massive Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.
We’ve seen some change come out of those demonstrations, including lawmakers who are now pushing for Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday. Local activists told us they’d like to see that, too.
“A national holiday would acknowledge that we have wronged a whole race of people, a whole culture of people,” said community activist JudyAnn Young. “This is our way of saying, celebrate your freedom. We see you, we honor you, we appreciate the contributions you have made to American culture.”
Activists and community leaders also told us that it’s important for the younger generation to understand what Juneteenth is, especially because it’s usually not included in history lessons at school.
8 News Now saw a lot of young faces at Lorenzi this evening. The event was put on by the organization “Save Our Sons,” which mentors underprivileged youth in Las Vegas.
It wrapped up around 7 p.m.