FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Juneteenth was celebrated at various events around the city of Fort Wayne Friday.
Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the freedom of slaves in the United States. There is typically a celebration held in Weisser Park, but it was canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An afternoon Juneteenth celebration took place at Foster Park Friday afternoon. Events included music, art displays, food trucks, and bounce houses for children. After the event wraps up, participants will march north to the Health Hut Wellness Center on Fairfield Avenue.
Foster Park Juneteenth celebration event organizer, Jerrell Holman, said Juneteenth was all about freedom.
“Freedom. Our Independence Day. You know, we know that there is a lot of things that tell us or let us know that we don’t have the true liberty that we thought we had. But this is just a stepping stone or something that we can recognize or actually we have on the scoreboard, like this is our point right now. So that’s what Juneteenth is to me,” said Holman.
A separate Juneteenth celebration was hosted by Keller Williams Realty in the courtyard behind their building on Calhoun Street. The event featured live music and free food. After the Foster Park celebration, people went to the Health Hut on Fairfield Ave. to continue the festivities. Originally, all three events were planned separately but decided to work around each other.
“I reached out to the leaders of each organization,” said Adrian Curry, director of the Art Leadership Center. “They were willing to work together. We adjusted the schedules and we made it work to where each Juneteenth celebration or event seemlessly became one celebration.”
Curry said he has been celebrating Juneteenth since the Weisser Park celebration began, but others said that this was their first year taking part. Janae McCullough-Boyd said she was previously unaware of the origins of Juneteenth, but wanted to make sure she celebrated it this year with her children because it’s not something they learn at school.
“I have my two sons along with their friend here today and I just didn’t want them to not know their history,” said McCullough-Boyd. “The world right now needs healing. Black voices are being heard and so I think this is just the perfect time and opportunity.”
It was also the first time for one Fort Wayne family who decided to put on a celebration for their neighborhood. Richard Murphy and Tamera Stevenson said they decided to throw a Juneteenth celebration near the intersection of Webster and Fairfax because they felt like it help raise spirits after weeks of dealing with the pandemic as well as protests that started following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
“Know the history of the day, know the reason behind it, and really embrace it,” said Murphy. I think the people needed this with what’s been going on around the world.”
Both Murphy and Stevenson, as well as the Art Leadership Center, plan on continuing to host Juneteenth festivities next year.