Juneteenth Festival organizers and others joined Mayor Byron Brown Monday in raising the Pan-African flag in Niagara Square in honor of Buffalo’s 46th annual Juneteenth Festival.
“The City of Buffalo is proudly home to one of the best known Juneteenth festivals in the U.S., celebrating African American heritage and culture through music, dance and, of course, food,” Brown said. “While most of the events will be virtual again this year due to the pandemic, Juneteenth weekend still preserves the African American culture in our city.”
The national theme for 2021 is “The Continual Evolution of Juneteenth.” In the City of Buffalo, that evolution is embodied in Juneteenth being an official paid holiday for the first time. City Hall will be closed Friday, June 18, for the new holiday.
“On this Juneteenth, I am proud that my administration has the most diverse workforce in the history of the City of Buffalo. I look forward to building on all of our actions and continuing to make Buffalo a model for racial equity, social reconstruction and opportunity for all,” Brown said. “On this Juneteenth, I ask all Buffalo residents to reflect on the many ways a diverse and inclusive community enhances and enriches the lives of all of our residents.”
Mayor Byron Brown raises the Juneteenth flag.
M&T Bank, in partnership with the City of Buffalo and other corporate and community sponsors, presents this year’s Juneteenth Festival.
The B.U.I.L.D. Organization under the leadership of William Gaiter began Juneteenth festivals in Buffalo in 1976 as part of bicentennial celebrations.
Juneteenth of Buffalo Inc., a nonprofit organization led by Marcus Brown – and now his successor Jennifer Strickland – continues this legacy and has found creative ways to continue the celebration of Juneteenth. Its mission is to actively preserve and promote the broad spectrum of African American heritage through educational and cultural activities that benefit the community as a whole.
Juneteenth is the oldest known observance of the ending of slavery in the U.S. The celebration began on June 19, 1865, the day Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas, in final execution of the Emancipation Proclamation – two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed it. Juneteenth celebrations today commemorate that memorable day and emphasize the achievements of African Americans.