Marchers in the Juneteenth, 2021 parade in Evanston. (Barbara Freeman photos)

Officially, the holiday’s name is Juneteenth National Independence Day, because it celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

While the new federal holiday is celebrated Monday, Evanston’s observance begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with a parade, starting at Robert Crown Center, and wraps up with a music, food, and arts festival at Ingraham Park until 6 p.m.

This is the city’s third Juneteenth observance, although the first one, in 2020, was part virtual, part car-parade only due to COVID-19.

Last year’s event was full-fledged, and occurred just two days after President Biden signed a measure designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

Members of S.O.U.L –Spirit of Universal Love — Chaaze Roberts and Gilo Kwesi Logan — getting ready for the 2021 parade.

The holiday is actually June 19 (“Juneteenth”). Because that falls on a Sunday this year, holiday-related closings will take place on Monday.

Juneteenth refers to the day when a Union general entered Galveston Texas on June 19, 1865, and informed both slaves and slaveholders that the Civil War had already ended, and slavery in the U.S. was a thing of the past.

Word of President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the Confederacy, had either been ignored or not received in Galveston until then.

This year’s local event is produced by the group Evanston’s Present and Future, in cooperation with the city.

Also involved is Opal’s Walk for Freedom, a non-profit named in honor of Opal Lee, a 95-year-old retired Texas schoolteacher, who helped lead the drive to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Kemone Hendricks, who organized last year’s Juneteenth parade, said then that Juneteenth “is America’s real freedom day, a day which everyone should be proud of.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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