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Juneteenth flag flies for first time at City Hall

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James Brown WXXI
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The official Juneteenth flying outside of Rochester City Hall.

For the first time, the official Juneteenth flag is flying outside City Hall.

Juneteenth is the day that the last African American slaves learned of the surrender of the Confederacy -- a full two months after the Civil War ended.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and the Community Foundation’s Simeon Banister spoke in a ceremony Friday to commemorate the holiday.

Banister said Juneteenth is a celebration of the United States living up to its promises.

“In many ways, this holiday celebrates the fact that the federal government finally cashed in on its promissory note that indeed all people are created equal,” said Banister. “A small down payment, to be clear.”

Warren said this Juneteenth is about more than those who were born in bondage.

“Let us fly this flag, as a reminder for those that are still faced with oppression, may it give them hope that better days lie ahead,” said Warren. “May it give us all the motivation that we need to continue to fight for justice, for freedom and equality for all of God’s people.”

Warren said she flew the flag at the request of a citizen, Gloria Johnson-Hovey, who organizes the annual Juneteenth 5k. That event is Wednesday.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.