LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Events across Central Kentucky marked the celebration of Juneteenth on Friday, the day in 1865 when news of the freedom of enslaved people was announced in Texas.
In Winchester, a Black Lives Matter march concluded at Heritage Park, where the Winchester Black history & Heritage Committee held a Juneteenth celebration.
In Lexington, the 15th annual Juneteenth Jubilee was held at African Cemetery No. 2 on E. 7th Street and downtown. And at Cheapside, a celebration and drum circle in the place where enslaved people were once sold.
"I’ve grown up all my life participating and understanding the important of Juneteenth," said Marvin King, a pastor in Winchester, "But it’s interesting that we celebrate the freedoms of our country on July fourth but the country does not celebrate the freedoms of African Americans in this country. So we find even in the holidays that represent freedom we are still racially polarized."
That polarization moved King, in part, to march on Friday.
"This today symbolizes something monumental in this community where we as people of color and people who are in this community are standing together to march for justice and to be a voice for those who have no voice," he said.
The ceremony at African Cemetery No. 2 included history about African Americans who fought in the Civil War.
"I want them to appreciate the men who are buried here," Robert Bell said of the crowd at the event.
A member of the reactivated 12th Regiment of the United States Colored Heavy Artillery at Camp Nelson, Bell spoke to the crowd at the cemetery.
"The war would not have been won when it was won without our service and many of those men served and got no thanks for it," he said.
And while the event is held annually, it brought out new people.
"Everything that's going on right now I feel it was time for me to take part in something as well," said Mellanie Black.
As calls for changes to systemic inequalities that negatively impact the black community continue across the country, Black said the Juneteenth celebration gave her hope that change is possible.
"Just looking around at all the diversity right now, it warms my heart," she said.