Roanoke celebrates Juneteenth at Eureka Park

ROANOKE, Va. – Celebrations for Juneteenth started early this weekend as hundreds of people headed to the Juneteenth Family Reunion at Eureka Park.

“Certain people can recognize what this celebration is all about: our freedom. It’s great; it’s great this is going on,” one eventgoer said.

On Saturday, the Roanoke Cultural Collective hosted its 4th annual Juneteenth Family Reunion.

“We oftentimes forget that people lose sight of that hope, need that inspiration, and look for times to come out in fellowship. So, we aren’t ignoring the things that are not positive, but what we want to do is celebrate that which is positive,” Bernadette BJ Lark, Committee leader for Roanoke Cultural Collective, said.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were informed of their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

People I spoke with said it’s important to share the history of Juneteenth with the younger generation.

“And if you’re not able to look back and see where you’ve come from, then it’s likely that it may start again and repeat the same history, so I think it’s important for our children to know where we’ve come from and why we are here and the struggles we’ve gone through. That’s why it’s relevant,” an eventgoer said.

Organizers said more than 1,000 people made their way through the park, checking out the dozens of vendors and live performances.

“I only knew about other holidays, and as I got older, I realized the importance of it, so just to know that now everyone knows about it and wants to be a part of it melts my heart. Because it’s an important day for everybody to celebrate and it shouldn’t go unnoticed,” Zariah Terry, a vendor said.

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