Juneteenth: State College NAACP celebrates 158 years of freedom

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The 2nd annual State College NAACP Juneteenth Celebration took place Saturday to commemorate 158 years of freedom.

June 19, 1865, marked a turning point in American history for Black Americans. It’s the day that Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas to announce that all enslaved black people within the state were free by executive order. 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The civil rights organization held the commemoration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in downtown State College. The event included music, poetry, singing and dancing from civil rights activists and students from area high schools and universities.

State College NAACP President Lorraine Jones expressed her excitement for the opportunity to educate the community during the event by working and celebrating together.

Following President Biden signing the legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday Jones said there is hope for the future.

“It feels like the country is really ready to start healing. To start really recognizing the past,” Jones said.

But while joy filled the MLK Plaza on Saturday,

“We can’t just say ‘oh Juneteenth is here, it’s signed and let’s go home’, no more protests. No, right?” Tierra Williams, co-chair of the 3/20 Coalition said.

Continued education of Black culture is something Jones and Williams both emphasize as necessities to continue the movement towards equality. Saturday’s Juneteenth offered a look into the history they say needs to be taught.

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