On this day in 1865, slavery legally came to an end nationwide after enslaved African Americans were notified of their freedom by union troops in Galveston Bay, TX.
The Erie community joined in on the nationwide celebration of Juneteenth.
Angela McNair is a member of Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on African American affairs. She puts on annual Juneteenth celebrations in Erie. “I feel like like as an African American, in general, I need to know my history, we learned about others’ history in the books, but I feel like it’s important to know our history, we’re we came from, who shoulders we’re standing on to be able to be where we are today,” said McNair.
Pennsylvania joins more than 40 other states and Washington D.C. In recognizing the date as Governor Wolf declares Juneteenth an official state holiday.
While Governor Wolf is set to declare Juneteenth a holiday, McNair says she would like city officials to approve having a Juneteenth parade right here in Erie. “I just feel like as an African American, we have to make sure that we include ourselves in these celebrations and that we should be celebrated just as much as other cultures in Erie,” McNair added.
As many people celebrate the day, Edinboro professor Ememe Sababu says it’s also important for all Americans to understand what Juneteenth actually is. “So we always need to look back to see how we get to the present where we need to go to move to the future,” said Professor Sababu.
Cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have parades that celebrate Juneteenth.
McNair says her next steps are to work with Mayor Schember and city officials to start getting approval for Juneteenth parade for next year.