IOWA – Juneteenth, a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States, is now a federal holiday after President Biden signed it into law Thursday.
Several local events will be happening this weekend to not only celebrate but inform.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Texas. That was about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the southern states.
Most federal government employees and the city of Des Moines will observe the new holiday on Friday since June 19 falls on Saturday this year.
This weekend, there’s a new observance in Ankeny. Ankeny Community Network was created back in 2019 as a space for people of color. The group organized its first Juneteenth celebration with hopes everyone will take part.
“Just like we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and we have these celebrations that erupt all over the country, so it should be with Juneteenth,” Deshara Bohanna, chairperson of Ankeny Community Network, said. “And with a lot of things that are attached to our history; our American history but our Black American history that are also a part of our bigger picture. We’re all more informed and richer and we have a greater understanding of each other, and we acknowledge the things that have happened that weren’t so great, and we move forward so that we can celebrate the pieces that are well and that, that we can join them together.”
The Juneteenth festival in Ankeny will take place at the District Town Square on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.