Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ hosted the Juneteenth celebration in Macomb. The event featured live entertainment, guest speakers, poetic expression, and storytelling. In addition, healthcare professionals were on hand to administer COVID vaccinations.
Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday and it’s a state holiday in Illinois. Western Illinois University Provost Martin Abraham said it is important to observe Juneteenth because it could help people understand the challenges Blacks have historically facef in America.
“It’s been a bit more than 150 years and we are still fighting a lot of those same battles. We need to recognize that the times to treat everybody fairly and equally are long past but they are not here,” Abraham said.
“We just need to make people more aware and I think this (Juneteenth) is a good opportunity to help make people more aware.”
Katerina Dawson, Vice President of the McDonough County Branch of the NAACP, praised the push to designate Juneteenth as a holiday, but added there is still work to be done.
“I still believe we have more to do. We still have to push for solid education (and) continuous discussions,” she said.
Macomb’s new police chief was also on hand for the celebration.
Chief Jerel Jones said Juneteenth is about freedom. He said more must be done to realize that goal .
“We have not achieved full progress. This is something we will continue as a people, as a community. We must continue in a forward direction,” Jones said.
He said Juneteenth should bring people closer together and help them improve relationships. He also encouraged people to take time to learn about Juneteenth and why it's important.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It’s also referred to as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day.
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