Juneteenth celebration held at Edison Mall

This Saturday marks the first Juneteenth that’s being recognized as a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed it into law on Thursday.

Juneteenth is named for June 19, 1865, the date that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, found out they’d been freed. That date was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

Celebrations have been taking place across the country and here in Southwest Florida.

The Juneteenth Celebration at Edison Mall in Fort Myers may have been small but it was significant.

Bianca Russell is an artist who decided to pay tribute to the past by painting.

“The word ‘liberty,’ the Lady Liberty. Justice for All isn’t something that we can really say that we all have right now,” she said. “It’s important for us to remain hopeful and to keep pushing towards what we envision as a great future for this country.”

Indi Denny’s 2-year-old daughter tried her hand at some expressive art as well. She celebrated Juneteenth for the first time, and so did her mom.

“I haven’t even heard about Juneteenth until honestly, last year, George… George Floyd, I never even knew about this holiday,” said Denny. “I think it’s important to know about your roots and where you come from. Just important to have more knowledge; knowledge is power.”

That’s why veteran Kevin Boyd, 30, told the story of Juneteenth to any child that would listen.

“It brought a little bit of a tear to my eyes because, you know, to see these kids being so interested to listen to what I was saying, meant a lot,” Boyd said.

Boyd is also the Post Commander for American Legion Post 38. “This is part of America. That’s part of history. It happened, we have to know about it so that we don’t repeat it because people who have failed to remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” Boyd said.

Whether by the stroke of a brush or by the movement of a marker, the story of Juneteenth was being told in the middle of the mall. It’s part of the promise to not let history repeat itself.

In addition to arts and crafts, there were other activities to engage young children. Although the dance-off may have been the night’s biggest hit.

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Drew Hill
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