It’s a holiday 156 years in the making, and from Brooklyn to the Jersey Shore, there were scenes of joy and moments of reflection.READ MORE: Bodycam Video Shows Moments Before NYPD Lieutenant Was Shot In Ankle Apprehending Suspect In The Bronx
Nothing speaks a good celebration like the smell of barbecue, people dancing and communities coming together, but the Juneteenth festival at Herbert Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant is different from the eleven others in years past.
Organizers said the holiday has taken on a new meaning since the death of George Floyd in 2020, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
It’s a reminder of how far the country has come, but also how far there is still to go.
“When they made the announcement that Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, I was amazed,” said Athenia Rodney, executive director of Umoja Event.
Chris Chapman was also moved by the decision. He brought his kids to the festival to honor their ancestors, who were enslaved.
“It’s not that many generations ago. It’s basically my great-grandmother,” he said. “For me, there’s something poignant just about the connection back to that time.”
Watch Cory James’ report —
That connection was also seen in Times Square, where the Broadway League commemorated the end of slavery with an outdoor show.
“It feels phenomenal to be out here … Trying not to be emotional about it,” actress Jacqueline B. Arnold said. “The meaning of this day is actually being seen, heard and understand.”
“I think it’s educational, as well, more than anything to those who don’t know,” Manhattan resident Mike Jones said.
Music filled the air in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Concourse section of the Bronx as revelers celebrated the holiday and remembered its meaning.
“Juneteenth, for me, is a celebration of not being oppressed anymore. It’s a different mindset that we all should have,” Highbridge resident Yvonne Douthette told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
Black Lives Matter Greater New York hosted the event to not only get people together, but also to try to educate the community on issues like health, politics and financial literacy.READ MORE: Several People Shot Outside Queens Laundromat, Police Investigating
“Because the thing that hurts our community most is the wealth disparity. It’s poverty, is the reason we have gun violence. Poverty is the reason why people have poor health care. So this is the groundwork,” said Chivona Newsom, co-founder of Black Lives Matter New York.
In New Jersey, Asbury Park and Neptune came together for a parade and festival to celebrate Juneteenth on the Jersey Shore.
There were somber moments, too.
In the Bronx, a ceremony took place at Van Cortland Park, a place believed to be the burial grounds of enslaved people.
In Flatbush, a six-foot statue of George Floyd was unveiled.
Shequanda Long wanted to bring history lessons to the forefront at a Freedom Fest gathering in Harlem.
She says the games, food and entertainment are a way to keep the message alive.
“This is an opportunity … to preserve our culture because oftentimes, the African-American, specifically African-American, story gets lost,” Long said.
That’s something parents Tyrone and Shaquanna Underdue are making sure does not happen with their 3-year-old, Liam.
“What are you teaching your son about Juneteenth?” CBS2’s Cory James asked.
“Love everybody. Show love to everybody. It doesn’t matter, Black, white, whatever. Just come together and show love to each other,” Tyrone Underdue said.
“Also to recognize and remember that we still have more work to do. If this is important for this history to be taught all over, not just to our community, but to every community,” Shaquanna Underdue said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 11 state landmarks, including the World Trade Center, would be lit up in red, green and black to celebrate Juneteenth.
Click here for a list of Juneteenth events in our area.MORE NEWS: COVID In New York: Mask Mandates Not Being Re-Imposed Just Yet As Concern Grows Over Delta Variant
CBS2’s Christina Fan and Nick Caloway contributed to this report.