'Something I wanted to see happen': Fayetteville Juneteenth festival weekend in full swing

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Juneteenth is now recognized as a federal holiday and cities across the country are gearing up for celebrations. Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony led an effort in the Sandhills to commemorate the day.

"It was something I wanted to see happen in my community here in Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Cumberland County. In 2018, I decided to call a couple friends and say hey lets have something to commemorate this holiday," Anthony said.

Celebrations from the first year brought out hundreds of people. The second year it progressed to the Juneteenth Freedom Festival. This year it has grown to a partnership with sponsors where thousands are expected to turn out.

"It's a jam-packed four day long weekend full of absolute amazing opportunities to celebrate freedom, unity, and resilience and learn and embrace the African American culture," Anthony said.

Juneteenth recognizes the ending of slavery. It's when Union Soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 bringing news of freedom to the enslaved two years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed them.

It's now a federal holiday with cities across the country preparing for large celebrations of their own.

"I think its taken on new life in the aftermath of what happened in 2020 with the death of George Floyd. Juneteenth was able to get national recognition for a very unfortunate reason. It was the catalyst we needed to push this over the hump," said Anthony.
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