KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hundreds of people gathered in East Knoxville for a Juneteenth celebration Wednesday.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission held a parade and celebration to honor the holiday and King Jr. The parade started at Chilhowee Park and made its way through East Knoxville to end at Dr. Walter Hardy Park.

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed. The day came two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation. Since Juneteenth was officially declared a federal holiday in 2021, festivities have grown in Knoxville and across the country.

“It’s really good because a lot of our African-American history has been hidden from us, so it’s good to learn from the past so we can celebrate our ancestors as well as being a part of America’s history as well,” Terry Robinson said.

Robinson brought his family to the celebration in hopes of connecting with their culture.

“This is a great event to remember history and the things that a lot of us didn’t learn until three or four years ago, so it’s good to share with the kids, just part of the community,” he said.

Schools, bands, youth groups, and organizations participated in the parade, including ‘100 Black Men,’ a group focused on mentorship for youth in Knoxville.

“Our motto is, ‘what you see is what you will be,’ so it’s very important because these young men, these young boys turn into men and they get to see these men standing around me come from different avocations doing different things in life and we open them up to things they’ve never seen,” David Wright with 100 Black Men said.

Many parents and their children attended the event, and learned more about their history.

“For me personally, it’s very important in history and it celebrates the traditions and stuff,” 11-year-old Kie-Shawn Brown said.

This year marked the fourth annual celebration, but the first for many attendees.

“Us as a community need to come together more for events like this, like I said this is our first time, I feel wonderful being here amongst our community it’s great,” Tonnika Hicks said.