Events, celebrations planned on Long Island for Juneteenth
Juneteenth has been celebrated for years, but there are pushes to make it an official holiday and to teach the meaning and history behind the day to those who might not be aware of it.
Ariana Levin wants to give her friends a history lesson. The Huntington Station teen organized a march from Amityville to Seaford to commemorate Juneteenth, the day when slaves in Texas learned they were free.
"There are not many kids my age doing anything and Juneteenth is an especially important day - so I felt it necessary do something," says Levin.
The day goes back to June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced enslaved people were now free. The announcement, though, came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Danielle Donaphin works with women and children in minority communities and says the history of the day should not be forgotten.
"It's a big day for us, it's a big day, it is significant in the Black community and we want to educate people because not everyone knows about Juneteenth," says Donaphin, of New Hour for Women and Children.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees.
Across Long Island, events commemorating the day have also been planned. The Lakeville AME Church in Manhasset, which was built in the 1800s, will host a celebration. The church is significant because it is the site of the oldest African American congregation on Long Island. It is also the site of where freed Long Island slaves are buried.
"The fact that we have such a important piece of history, of African American history, right here in Nassau Country - I want to make sure everybody knows," says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.