(KTXL) — Black leaders say they will not be letting the heatwave stop them from celebrating Juneteenth as a national holiday for the first time Saturday.
“It’s a long time coming. A hundred years of, you know, not being free, not having freedom, not being able to speak our minds,” said Terri Monroe.
“It means that we have came and that we have arrived. And we’re more equal,” said Paulette Amous-Gross.
“The significance of this is historical and it’s paramount,” said Rachel Thompson, founder of The People’s Empowerment Center.
President Joe Biden signed into law legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday, commemorating the end of slavery when the last of the enslaved people learned they were free.
“We did it for our ancestors — the people who came before us. It was their fight and we continued the fight,” Thompson said.
On Saturday, the San Joaquin County Juneteenth Foundation will host a community celebration at Weber Point in Stockton.
“They will know without a shadow of a doubt that the Afro American people can come together in music, peace, joy, song, and food,” Monroe said. “That’s what we do; we come together to celebrate our heritage”
Organizers say it is time to celebrate progress after being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the civil unrest of 2020.
And to those who pushback against Juneteenth being a national holiday, Black leaders say to get educated on the meaning behind the day.
“Know your history, know that the black man was seen as three-fifths of a person, and that we did not have emancipation on the Fourth of July,” Thompson said. “We do as Americans uphold the Fourth of July because we’re American.”
The Juneteenth celebration will be going on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Organizers want to remind people to stay hydrated but say there will also be a water balloon and cooling stations.