2023 Juneteenth Celebration in Rochester

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(ABC 6 News) – It was a day of celebration for African Americans as Juneteenth represents freedom.

With Governor Walz making it a state holiday, the Rochester community is happy it’s getting the recognition it deserves.

“When you think about the history of Juneteenth you know it’s really when enslaved African Americans truly became free, at least from a proclamation perspective,” president of the Rochester NAACP Walé Elegbede said.

It’s a celebration that dates back to 1865.

“It puts all of us together in one place and one time enjoying each other,” owner of Everyday 365 Clothing Mykitta Davis said.

The Juneteenth celebration in Rochester is something that’s been going on for 18 years.

“This year, we can celebrate it with a national holiday, a state holiday, and we also in Rochester declared it as a City holiday, of course.”

The community came to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park to take part in the celebration and learn about the history.

“Growing up some of that information was basically hidden from us like those type of declarations and stuff like that so for it to be finally getting recognized right now, it means a lot,” Rochester resident Donyale Johnson said.

As part of the Juneteenth celebration, two local high school graduates received the Mr. and Miss Juneteenth Scholarship.

Cham Bogani and Gaytha Hussein are both graduates from Century High School.

They shared what this holiday means to them.

“The community in Rochester is so welcoming and seeing everyone come out here and join us for Juneteenth is amazing,” Bogani said.

“Juneteenth means a lot to me, it commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and it’s also a new era for African Americans,” Hussein said.

Many people from all different backgrounds came to show their support.

They enjoyed live music and food, and networked with the vendors in attendance.

It was truly a time to bring people together.

“It gives us a little more freedom to feel like we really are truly an American here,” Davis said.

With Juneteenth now being a state holiday, the NAACP in Rochester said the job isn’t finished as they now want businesses to take the time to celebrate holiday.

It’s something they’ll continue to fight for.

“We can’t do it alone, Dr. King couldn’t do it alone, Rosa Parks couldn’t do it alone, it took everybody, so we need people to join us and continue the good fight,” Elegbede said.

The Juneteenth celebration was one of many events happening throughout Rochesterfest.