Evanston to hold first-ever Juneteenth Parade, virtually

EVANSTON (WLS) -- For the first time ever, the City of Evanston is planning a Juneteenth parade.

But, it's getting a virtual start, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Juneteenth is the day the last enslaved people in Texas were freed on June 19, 1865, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Kemone Hendrick is the founder of Juneteenth Evanston 2020.

She said while previous gatherings in Evanston have recognized Juneteenth, she wanted it celebrated on a much larger scale, just like the Fourth of July.

"It's not only just a Black holiday that Black people should be celebrating," said Hendricks. "Everyone should be celebrating because it's America's real emancipation day."

Hendricks said COVID-19 forced her to change her plans from an in-person parade on Friday, to an online event.

It will feature performances and presentations on why it's so important to celebrate the holiday, especially with the civil unrest in the days after George Floyd's death.

Our history that's taught in our school system is very one-sided and a re-examination of United States history needs to take form," said Dino Robinson, founder of Shorefront Legacy Center.

Many business this year have announced they are giving their employees Juneteenth as a paid vacation day.

Nearly all states, including Illinois, recognize Juneteenth as an official or ceremonial holiday but there is a push for it to be recognized federally.

Opal Lee, 93, of Texas has campaigned tirelessly for Juneteenth to become a national holiday. She has actually walked across the country and serves as an inspiration for Hendricks.

"To really take a look at America for what it is, how it is and what it still is and what we're fighting for is celebrating June 19, 1865," said Hendricks.
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