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Peekskill Holds First Juneteenth Event Saturday

Peekskill will celebrate its First Annual Juneteenth celebration with a full day of events on Saturday, June 18. Juneteenth is the oldest continuously celebrated African American Holiday commemorating the emancipation from slavery and commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas found out that they had learned they been freed.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, which resulted in the abolition of slavery in April of 1865 with the ratification of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Juneteenth is an official holiday in 36 states, including New York. Congress has officially proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day. Peekskill Youth Bureau Director and Juneteenth Committee member Valerie Swan said that while White Plains has a Juneteenth parade, committee members wanted to bring a celebration to Northern Westchester. “North of (Interstate) 287, it seems like the [black] community is forgotten, but they do just as many thing as the southern tier,” Swan said. “After many discussions we decided that with the 150th anniversary is a perfect time to have it here in Peekskill.”

The Parade starts on Park Street at 2 p.m. and a kickoff event will be held at the viewing station on Nelson Avenue in front of the library starting at 1 p.m. The parade will finish at Riverfront Green Park, where there will be a full slate of events taking place for the rest of the day. There will be a gospel concert from 4-6 p.m. followed by an R&B concert from 6-8 p.m. There will also be lots of food, craft, heath and educational vendors on hand.

The event will draw people of all ages, Swan said. “We’re organizing for seniors to be put on the trolley so the trolley will make its debut with the community senior citizens and we’ll pay homage to the seniors that have been the pillars of this community,” Swan said. “I look at it as an intergenerational celebration because we’ll have a lot of young people marching in the parade. The majority of the bands are young people.”

Fellow committee member Jeanette Phillips said the event will have feature two of Peekskill’s most well-known African-American natives. “We’re honored to have the state’s first African American mayor, Former Peekskill Mayor Richard Jackson, be the parade’s grand marshal and the master of ceremonies will be [WPIX reporter] Jennifer Jordan, who is also from Peekskill,” Phillips said.

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