BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — The mayor of Boynton Beach led the community on Friday to celebrate the liberation of those who were held as slaves in the United States.
Roughly a dozen people turned out for a "Juneteenth Celebration Of Freedom," led by Mayor Steven Grant, at a small strip mall on Northeast 10th Avenue.
A DJ played music while volunteers served free food and drinks.
Mayor Grant said this was the first year Boynton Beach has held a Juneteenth celebration, adding that it was a great opportunity for him to survey people in the community about their needs like child care, Internet, and food.
"I learned about Juneteenth a few months ago, and after the death of George Floyd, I realized that I needed to do something for the community to let them know we celebrate their independence in the U.S.," said Mayor Grant.
In what is now known as Juneteenth, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas with news that the Civil War is over and slavery in the United States was abolished.
Every year, Juneteenth is celebrated to commemorate the end of slavery in America.
Despite the fact that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued more than two years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, a lack of Union soldiers in the rebel state of Texas made the order difficult to enforce.
Irwin Cineus with Boynton Strong said this is an opportunity to bring the community together and remember that there is still racism in 2020.
"We are talking 1865, 1960s, we are still fighting for civil rights. And in 2020 we are still talking about George Floyd," said Cineus.
Some residents have created a new Community Review Board to keep events like this happening and to continue the conversations about race relations.
"We are coming tighter for unity and community and being a collective voice for where the city goes," said Bernard Wright.