Juneteenth parade celebrates freedom through the streets of Wilmington

WILMINGTON, Del. -- "1865, June 19th, the enslaved people in Texas found out that they were indeed free. At that time, they didn't quite know what freedom was," said Sylvia Lewis-Harris, President of the Delaware Juneteenth Association.

It's true. It took more than two years following President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation for slaves in Galveston, Texas, to get the news.

Similar to how Union soldiers stepped foot in Texas to spread the word, community members took to the streets of Wilmington, Delaware, to spread their own word more than 150 years later.

"We're doing it all. We're doing freedom of speech, freedom of expression, celebrating freedom," said Lewis-Harris.

It's a celebration that has rung throughout Wilmington for more than 25 years thanks to the Delaware Juneteenth Association, which typically holds a massive parade and festival for the holiday.

Due to COVID-19, this year's celebration looked different.

With a police escort, they paraded through their neighborhoods waving signs and honking at smiling passersby.

It's a celebration of success that respects the amount of work that still remains to be completed.

"A lot of people look at our faults but they don't see our greatness," said Keith Barley, who participated in the caravan ride today. "They look at our shortcomings and they don't see our potential."

This message inspired many participants to decorate their cars with the words, "Black Lives Matter."

One woman wore a shirt that read, "Sickle Cell Lives Matter."

Nina Anderson, Executive Director of Tova Community Health, told us, "Sickle-cell anemia affects people of African descent prevalently in the United States and there's over 100,000,000 people that live with sickle cell globally."

The United Nations and WHO recognizes June 19th as World Sickle Cell Day.

Coupled with Juneteenth, this weekend's celebrations recognize the best of the African-American community and call a better future into action.

Learn more about Juneteenth.

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