By Mye Owens Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to read the Emancipation Proclamation letting slaves know they were finally free. This reading came two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the order in 1863.
The celebration began as jubilation spread throughout the slave quarters. Every year since then, communities have joined together to celebrate what is known as Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom realized.
In Syracuse, the celebration will kick off Friday, June 15, and continue to Saturday, June 16, at Clinton Square in Downtown Syracuse.
Every year, the Juneteeth Festival aims to acknowledge the role Syracuse and Central New York during this time. The free celebration in Clinton Square will include a live performance by R&B singer Chante Moore, an educational area, food and exhibits.
In 1827, New York State abolished slavery, bringing many freedom seekers from southern states to the North. By 1850, 670 African Americans lived in Onondaga County including Syracuse, Onondaga and Elbridge.
Syracuse newspapers openly advertised support for the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, both European Americans and African Americans from Central New York fought in the war. Those seeking freedom continued to come from the South during the war to settle in Central New York.
Syracuse’s Freedom Trail includes local locations where historical events took place.