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Juneteenth slowly gains recognition in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Central Indiana joined much of the country Monday in celebrating Juneteenth, and some are using the day to reflect on the country’s history.

More than a century and a half ago, enslaved African Americans in Texas were told they were free.

Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to abolish slavery after President Abraham Lincoln established the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Texas didn’t eradicate slavery until June 19, 1865.

A year later, formerly enslaved residents of Galveston, Texas, gathered together to celebrate the anniversary of their freedom, known as “Jubilee Day.”

And now, the holiday renamed Juneteenth is slowly gaining recognition in Indiana.

“It took a couple of years or more for it to get to the other parts of the country. A hundred years later, 20 years later, we waited all this time to have a celebration for something that we deem very important in our lives. Juneteenth is that celebration,” James Taylor, the director of the Moorhead Community Resource Center, said.

On Monday, the Moorhead Community Resource Center hosted the second annual Juneteenth Eastside Celebration.

The goal of the annual event is to remember — or learn for the first time — the meaning of Juneteenth and its impact on communities.

“(It’s) to engage in conversation about our history, about our ancestors, to be here, and be an affirmation for our children, so they can see some positive images,” Dona Lucas, an Indianapolis resident, said.

“It means a celebration and a kaleidoscope of culture, people from all over. Not just Black people, but Blacks, whites, and Hispanics. We can all come together and share the celebration of what we define as a melting pot of America,” Taylor said.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate and how closely it’s connected with our freedom in this country,” the program manager of Asante Art Institute of Indianapolis, Terrance Asante-Doyle, said.

The event also showed support for local black-owned businesses and provided community resources.

Taylor says Juneteenth has become more universally recognized beyond Black America, especially with the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We call things that happened like that — the George Floyd, the Breonna Taylor — we analyze it from a cost analysis perspective. That means that if something bad happens, something good can happen also,” Taylor said.

Event organizers say they hope to inspire the younger generations to continue to celebrate Juneteenth for years to come.