SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Saturday marked 7 years of Santa Barbara’s official recognition of Black Independence Day.

“We are here to say happy Juneteenth, and we will continue to celebrate every year until black people can exercise their full freedom in this country,” said Juneteenth Santa Barbara Cofounder Simone Ruskcamp.

“If you are a descendant of of someone from Africa and you’re living here in America, you’re a survivor. You are a survivor of the strongest who went through Middle Passage, who went through enslavement and are here today as a reflection,” said Educational Advancement Foundation Captain Charlotte Gullap-Moore.

Though Freedom Day represents progress, it’s also a reminder of some stark realities of American history and the current state of affairs.

“When the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced, the freedom that was actually given to black people was a freedom with limitations. And so we show up here. We take up a whole bunch of space to remind you that we will get what we are entitled to. And we have not gotten freedom yet,” Simone Ruskcamp.

Juneteenth celebrations have taken place for decades in southern states like Texas.

But in Santa Barbara it’s a fairly recent tradition.

“My grandmother has been here since the early sixties and it’s just amazing to see how far things have gone. She’s never seen anything like this before, so it’s really incredible to see it brought back into spaces like this,” said local artist Reyna Iman.

Saturday’s festivities honored Sojourner Rolle, a pivotal voice for progress for the local black community and the woman who helped lead the way for Juneteenth in Santa Barbara.

“We call this the ‘Joy for the People’ Block Party because her real name is joy,” said Juneteenth Santa Barbara Executive Director and Cofounder Jordan Killebrew.

Sojourner’s husband Rod Rolle says she would be thrilled with the legacy she left behind.

“I know she would be smiling from ear to ear. To know that she worked with Healing Justice when they were just forming here in Santa Barbara,” said the photojournalist.

Locals say they hope this tradition will last forever.

“The black community is 2% of the population here in Santa Barbara County. So being able to find that community is really important and then open it up to the broader community so that we can all celebrate the achievements and the black community in Santa Barbara County,” said Tammy Sims-Johnson, who lives in Santa Barbara.

Around 5,000 people attended Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration— a promising sign that this tradition is here to stay.