Events, celebrations across Long Island commemorate Juneteenth

Friday marked the 155th anniversary of news arriving in Texas that slaves were freed - it's a day known as Juneteenth.
The day dates back to June 19, 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced that enslaved people were free.
However, that announcement came more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Events include a celebration along Community Drive in Manhasset at Lakeville AME Church.
The church is significant because it is the site of the oldest African American congregation on Long Island and it is where freed Long Island slaves are buried.
"The fact that we have such an important piece of history, of African American history, right here in Nassau County, I want to make sure everybody knows," says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
Curran announced mandatory unconscious bias training for non-sworn county employees, and plans to rename a part of Charles Lindberg Boulevard street after William M. Wheeler, a Hempstead resident who broke barriers as a Tuskeegee Airman.
Later Friday evening, the Long Island Unity March will begin at Amityville Memorial High School. Hundreds signed up to participate in the two-hour celebration. Participants will stop at different places along the route where people can join, including Massapequa High School.
The entire march was organized by a Walt Whitman High School senior who had never learned about Juneteenth in school.
"It definitely kind of hurts seeing as it is my history and we are taught about July 4 and all these other days in American history but we are not taught about one of the most important for people who look like me," says Ariana Levin, organizer of the Long Island Unity March.
Along the route there will be speeches and multiple organizations will be in attendance with important information, like how to get registered to vote.
"For us, we really wanted to carve out Juneteenth and the celebratory fact of Juneteenth and march," says Shanequa Levin, mother of the organizer. "We would have had a parade if we could have had a parade but with all the social distancing and things like that we couldn't do that so we will work on that for next year."
The Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs also is hosting a virtual celebration on Zoom, featuring professional storytellers and musical performances.
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On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order recognizing this year's Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees.

Events, celebrations planned on Long Island for Juneteenth