Juneteenth celebrated with a variety of events around the Delaware Valley

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Saturday, June 20, 2020
Juneteenth celebrated with a variety of events around the Delaware Valley
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Juneteenth was celebrated in many places around the Delaware Valley on Friday.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Juneteenth was celebrated in many places around the Delaware Valley Friday.

A day remembered in 1865 when the Union Army brought word to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, letting them know that they were free.

For those who've fought for Juneteenth to be recognized, it was a great day in a movement they know will not only go on but only continue to grow.

In Camden, New Jersey, they celebrated Juneteenth by decorating cars and honking their horns during a parade that happened with a police and fire escort.

In Kennett Square, a 14-year-old girl named Isabella Hanson organized a Juneteenth celebration at the historic Fussell House.

"The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying, and for gathering remaining family members," said Hanson.

The Fussell House was part of the Underground Railroad.

On Friday, Hanson was able to announce that the National Park Service has added Fussell House to the Network of Freedom, an effort to preserve and promote the history of resistance to slavery.

In Wilmington, Delaware, Action News sat down with Sylvia Lewis-Harris, co-founder of Delaware Juneteenth Association and Saniya Gay, Miss Juneteenth 2020.

"Seeing what's going on today, in today's climate, it's emotional. It's emotional. And I grew up during the first civil rights movement," said Sylvania Lewis-Harris. "This is different. Young people, these young people today, very different in this march."

"We're trying to make a change, and our community is tired of it and they're willing to show that we're ready for a change," said Saniya Gay who is Miss Juneteenth 2020.

The organization hosted a virtual panel discussion about Juneteenth on its website, with more events planned through the weekend.

Lewis-Harris told us she's over the moon that Juneteenth is being celebrated by so many.

"Oh my goodness, I have never been so elated considering all the work that we've done," said Lewis-Harris. "This is our 26th year celebrating Juneteenth here in Delaware."

Lewis-Harris says it was "a big thing" that the state of Delaware and the city of Wilmington closed their offices on Friday in honor of Juneteenth.

She's part of the effort to convince lawmakers in Washington to make Juneteenth a National Day of Observance.

Friday evening, another celebration culmination was held at Vernon Park in the city's Germantown section.

Melissa Robbins of Fox Chase said, "Amongst all of the civil unrest, people are hungry. People want knowledge, people want to be a part of something."

Earlier Friday, The Brotherly Love March in West Philadelphia showcased how silence can often speak volumes. The march also comes as the city of Philadelphia has designated Juneteenth as a citywide holiday.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.