NEW YORK - Juneteenth is a federal holiday that marks the end of slavery in the United States. The official date — June 19 — falls on Sunday this year so the holiday is observed on Monday, June 20. But events are being held all weekend.
Greenwich Village came alive with the sounds of Africa on Friday as New York City celebrated Juneteenth. The nonprofit Greenwich House hosted an event aimed at educating children about African culture.
"The changes we want to see in this country — you can't make without involving children," Soapbox Presents arts curator Marija Abney said. "They are our next generation."
Double Dutch champions Jazzy Jumpers from Brownsville showed off their talents and tradition.
"Juneteenth is about independence, it's freedom, that's where we are liberated," Castride Dume, an assistant coach for the Jazzy Jumpers, said. "We get to show every way we've been suppressed in every which way — creativity, art, music, Double Dutch dancing."
Toni Veal is the Jazzy Jumpers coach.
"Double Dutch is a Black girls' pastime," Veal said. "It's what we do we unite on the to bring into a bigger light that's amazing."
In Newark, New Jersey, some activists demonstrated on Friday. They are calling on lawmakers to create a task force to study reparations for African Americans.
Sen. Cory Booker said he wants people to use this holiday to remember history.
"I think this Juneteenth holiday should be one where we have a reflection — we reflect upon those who sacrificed, those who overcame slavery and Jim Crow and racism and hate," Booker said, "and try to make our country about love, unity, and justice."
Yonkers is commemorating Juneteenth with a new exhibit called The Enslaved Africans' Rain Garden along the Hudson River. Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell created five life-size bronze sculptures. She said she hopes the public art installation sends a powerful message.
The official name of the federal holiday is Juneteenth National Independence Day.