PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Saturday is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It signifies the day in 1865 when the last slaves learned they were free.
In Peoria, the Southside Community Center wrapped up its week-long Juneteenth celebration with the first Freedom Festival. Leaders invited people to learn about African-American history, celebrate freedom, and have fun.
Irene Lewis-Wimbley, the director of the community center, said about 200 people came to the event. She said 20 vendors and organizations set up shop, giving out food boxes, COVID-19 vaccines, and lunch.
Wimbley said celebrating Juneteenth with the community helps educate and create unity between people. She’s hopeful the festival becomes a model for other cities’ celebrations.
“We have brought together our community, black, white, and brown, to come together to connect, and we’re going to grow together,” said Lewis-Wimbley. “Everybody’s going to know and we are going to make sure. That’s our mission that folks know about Juneteenth and what unity, and freedom, and community really means.”
She said the celebration continued later Saturday night with a ‘Message of Unity.’