CLEVELAND (WJW) — It was a day of celebration. “Black is lovely and it will come in so numerous different shades, arrays, types,” claimed Keenan Williams, owner of nyceCO Prints, a monitor printing business. It was also a working day of reflection. 

Rain and glow, Cleveland’s inaugural Juneteenth Flexibility Fest on Shopping mall C downtown was effectively attended and organizers say, a success.

“It’s about celebrating flexibility and community and coming with each other as one particular,” explained Tony Sias, President and CEO of Karamu House, one particular of the hosts together with Ingenuity Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance and MetroHealth.

156 several years later, Juneteenth is now a federal holiday getaway. “A whole lot of Black individuals have celebrated Juneteenth for a quite very long time but I think going mainstream with it, it turning into a federal holiday break is very vital due to the fact a lot more cultures will be able to encounter what it’s like to be an African American or rejoice like an African American,” explained Williams. 

Juneteenth commemorated the day Union troops arrived into Galveston, Texas to advise enslaved Black folks that they were being absolutely free a lot more than two months after the finish of the Civil War and a lot more than two yrs right after the Emancipation Proclamation experienced been signed.

“I notify them that all the time. There are people today that gave their lives for you to have the prospects you men have. So I want them to consider away that this is our record, men and women died for this,” claimed attendee Lisa Baker who was with her two sons.

Karamu, the oldest producing African American theater in the nation, executed a live performance entitled “Songs of Liberation.”

Art is a reflection of culture and we use art as a motor vehicle towards social improve and comprehension,” reported Sias. 

Grammy Award winning artists and other special guests took the phase to inspire attendees. 

“Watching you know, African folks perform and doing their dances, that was the cool section,” reported Preston Baker.

General performance artists had been joined by visual artists producing vivid murals and a public art venture gave persons area to compose their ideas about independence and getting listened to.

And additional than 20 Black-owned organizations and business owners had been highlighted in the Seller Village.

“It’s fantastic to know what the people that glimpse like you are undertaking in your town,” claimed Williams.

Most drastically the organizers hope this independence fest influenced the local community to be educated and activated.

“It’s an opportunity to you know confront the past, search at the issues we’re struggling with in this article in the present but I assume also to really place on full display the type of town that we’re developing. The variety of town that we want to be,” reported Michael Deemer, Interim President & CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

“It’s searching at voting legal rights, on the lookout at systemic racism and eradication of that. How do we search at health disparities? So as a group this is springboard into beginning to definitely address those problems,” explained Sias.