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The streets of downtown Pittsburgh were alive with beats, bites, and a bevy of cultural celebrations at this year’s FusionFest Juneteenth celebration, according to TribLIVE. Tunes from artists like Maze and Frankie Beverly set the backdrop for a day that not only honored the ancestors but also embraced the future, drawing people into a shared space of commemoration and joy.

Pittsburgh’s Mayor Ed Gainey took the sentiment to heart, underscoring the city’s commitment to cultural diversity, he told attendees, “It’s a day for celebration. As we continue to evolve, the more things that we have to show a culturally diverse city, the better our city will be. Today is a day to demonstrate positivity,” as per TribLIVE. The festival which included music performances, vendors, and food spanned Third Avenue, Smithfield Street, and wrapped around the Boulevard of the Allies, drawing attention to The Greenwood-Smithfield Building, a hub of black-owned businesses.

Attendee Carmen Haley expressed profound pride, noting, as cited by TribLIVE, “It’s so much culture, even Latino and Afro-Latino. I love it”. Similarly, a sense of historical significance permeated the event, with free Juneteenth flags, bracelets, and a historical timeline on display, curated by Tracey Jennings, who wanted to take people on a centuries-long odyssey. The celebration culminated with a fashion show and after-party inside Emerald City, continuing well into the night.

The event wasn’t just a showcase of culture but an affirmation of entrepreneurial spirit and empowerment, with youths like Latrell Knight, who started his own food stand selling hot dogs and fries, being spotlighted by Mayor Ed Gainey as examples of aspiration and dedication; in a report by CBS News Pittsburgh, Gainey expressed, “These are stories that inspire people, these are stories that let people know that you can dream big and be who you want to be. That’s what Juneteenth is. The freedom to live out your dream, the freedom to not be shackled by anything”.