By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
For the second year in a row, members of the community came together to celebrate Juneteenth.
While watching skits, sipping red drinks and sharing red velvet cake at the East branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, they learned more about the history of Texas slaves.
Juneteenth marks the day, June 19, 1865, that the last slaves in the country — those in Texas — discovered they were free.
“And they celebrated because of that,” said Cheryl Moss, president of the Friends of the Public Library East committee. “Freedom is something to celebrate.”
The committee organized the event to share information about Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation, she said.
They grilled hot dogs, but also served traditional red foods that symbolize the blood shed in slavery and in the struggle for freedom. Each participant left with a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Bryanna Landers, 13, of Youngstown enjoyed the program so much last year she came back again.
“I learned bad things,” she said. “But it was important to know what they had to do and how horrible their slave holders were to them.”
The program is informative, she said. Unfortunately, she added, some people don’t care about learning about Juneteenth.
“It’s important to know all this stuff, because we don’t understand how good we have it now and how bad they had it,” Landers said.
Charlie Jones Sr. of Youngstown agreed it’s important for people to learn about the celebration.
“This is something that people need to come out and know about, because a whole lot of people don’t know anything about Juneteenth, and Juneteenth is a very important day,” he said.
It’s important, he added, because it marks the day all slaves were free.
Offering activities and crafts for the kids is a great way to get them to the program where they can learn, he said.
“I’m glad they built this library,” he said. “Everything begins with education. Without education, we don’t make any progress.”