Dating back to 1860s, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were free. As Texas was the most remote of the slave states, many of those slaves had not yet heard of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation that had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier. Early celebrations of the event were mostly church-centered community gatherings. Today it is celebrated in most cities and many smaller communities with food festivals, park parties and historical reenactments. This year, Springfield will celebrate its 27th Juneteenth celebration with a freedom march to the state Capitol. March participants, who are welcome to decorate their vehicles or floats, will meet at Comer Cox Park at 9 a.m. The march will begin at 10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and head west on Capitol Avenue. A closing ceremony will follow the march and scheduled speakers include Alderwoman Doris Turner, Alderman Shawn Gregory and the co-founder of the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, Sunshine Clemons.

Juneteenth March
Saturday, June 20, 10 a.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Capitol Avenue

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