Juneteenth Celebrations through Capital Region

Juneteenth Celebrations through Capital Region

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – People all over the Capital Region are coming together to celebrate Juneteenth. It marks the day the last group of enslaved people learned of their freedom in 1865; two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Over at Southern University, people are celebrating Juneteenth in an untraditional way this year. They are focusing on the success of local entrepreneurs in hopes it inspires more people of color to follow their lead.

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“I think it’s a great alignment with Juneteenth and celebrating the achievement of African Americans locally in the community to those who can spur on the economy,” said Maya Banks with Southern University.

People like Banjamin Harris. Harris is a local barber who started his own product line called Beauty by Benjamin. He’s showing others how to use their natural talents to be successful.

“Let’s get going on with our creativity and let’s get off our hands and move forward,” said Harris.

Moving forward is what the City of Denham Springs is focusing on. Mayor Gerard Landry said this is the first year the predominately white city is officially observing Juneteenth as a holiday.

“To finally see that we’re moving forward, past all the barriers that we may or may not have had in the past, but we’re moving forward, and it feels absolutely fantastic,” said Landry.

As a resident of Denham Springs, Ray Riley is excited to be supported and better unify the city.

“Sometimes it’s hard for African Americans to shine at some points in the community so we can get the message out there that we are here and we want unity just like everybody else,” said Riley.

Riley is also the Co-Director of a local summer camp, Camp Empowerment. They are putting on a special Juneteenth program that includes singing and artwork. However, Riley believes teaching the kids the reason why they are celebrating is most important.

“A lot of times it’s not taught to them the way it should be so therefore we try to take time to try to teach them so they can remember the past but still go forward,” explained Riley.

The celebrations aren’t over after Wednesday. The Livingston Parish Minister Alliance will also host the first ever Juneteenth Parade on Saturday in Denham Springs. It begins at 1 p.m. at the High School and will end at Veterans Boulevard.

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