Visitors began gathering in Johnstown for the start of the week long celebration of Juneteenth in the city.
“All week long, after we kick it off with this great concert, there will be events in Central Park and Downtown Johnstown free to the public each and every day,” said organizer Deacon Jeffrey Wilson.
Juneteenth is short for June 19th, 1865, the day when the last slaves in America were freed.
“The day is about love and unity,”
“It’s probably one of the most significant times in American history.”
COVID-19 cancelled their celebration last year, but they’re back for their 9th event.
“Each year it has grown. Each year, the public interest in it has grown also,” Wilson said.
Organizers say over 150 years later racism is still an issue today.
“Because of the civil unrest that was taking place throughout our country during 2020, right along with the pandemic, it brought a social awareness to a lot of different ethnic groups in our country,” said organizer Oscar Cashaw Sr.
People’s Natural Gas Park, Central Park, and other locations throughout the city will host musical performances, guest speakers, food vendors throughout the upcoming week.
Highlands Health is also giving out COVID-19 vaccines throughout the week.
Proceeds will go to the Flood City Youth Fitness Academy in Johnstown, where exercise, education, and nutrition is provided to kids in our area.
“It’s classified as a safe haven for the youth in our cities,” said Cashaw, who is also the Executive Director for the FCYFA.
Organizers say it’s an opportunity to share their heritage and history with others for a more civil future.
“Because a lot of people don’t know that story. They might know the story about their heritage, but they don’t know about other ethnic group’s heritage,” Cashaw said.
“So, this will give everybody a great opportunity to take part in that and see what it’s all about.”