Philly Proud: Juneteenth Parade commemorates end of slavery

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

On Saturday, Philadelphia held its 4th annual Juneteenth parade, this time on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia.

"I've seen this parade in my travels throughout the country and I thought, 'we have to have this in Philadelphia,'" said Ali Salahuddin.

And for the past four years, that's exactly what the Pennsylvania Juneteenth Initiative did.

"It's important generally because the story needs to be told, of slavery," said Michal Rashid. "The effect of slavery on the people themselves. The effect of slavery on the American economy, not only black people but on white people as well."

This year brings new additions. The parade route has been moved from downtown to West Philadelphia.

"This year we decided to put it on 52nd street," said Salahuddin. "So when you see Juneteenth this year, you'll see a strong local effort."

The committee will also rename 52nd Street to Muhammad Ali Way. A total of 46 street signs will be installed, spanning from 52nd and Parkside to Baltimore Avenue.

"Ali had a major presence in West Philadelphia, not only did he live in West Philadelphia in the late 60s early 70s, but he frequented a lot of places," said Salahuddin.

This year's festivities are bigger and better than ever before.

"We've got drill teams, we have dance teams, nonprofit organizations, we have businesses, we have schools," said Sonni King.

"We've gotten so much support from the community, so much support from schools, nonprofits," said King.

The parade's headliner is West Philly's own Kindred Family Soul.

"Not only do they represent family, but they represent peace, they represent the community which is really a big purpose of what the Juneteenth celebration is trying to do," said Felicia Harris.

The day kicks off with an ancestor's breakfast and welcome ceremony with Mayor Jim Kenney. He serves as a chairperson on the committee.

"We just think it's a positive reflection of the accomplishments that we've been able to make as a community over the last 400 years," said Salahuddin.

Governor Wolf recently declared Juneteenth to be a Pennsylvania state holiday.
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