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Rochester City Hall hosts Juneteenth Block Party

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Noelle E. C. Evans
/
WXXI News
Students with the Tyshaun Cauldwell Rec Center of Hope dance with singer Cinnamon Jones at a Juneteenth block party at Rochester City Hall on Monday.

The City of Rochester celebrated Juneteenth on Monday with a block party outside City Hall.

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 that enslaved Black people in Texas were finally granted their freedom. That was more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation that banned slavery in Confederate states, according to the

Mayor Malik Evans mingled with the crowd. He said it’s important that everyone knows the significance of this holiday.

“Juneteenth was an opportunity for us to be free although we were... enslaved and it’s so important for people to understand that," Evans said. "And Juneteenth gives us the opportunity to have that conversation and talk about the future.”

Children were among the attendees, listening to music and enjoying food. A group of students from Tyshaun Cauldwell Rec Center of Hope said most of them hadn’t heard of Juneteenth until as recently as today.

12-year-old A'zaria Lazarus first learned about Juneteenth a few months ago in social studies class.

“It was really deep, like she was showing us the whips and like, some of the stuff that they did,” she said.

Commemorating this day is a mix of joy and pain for her.

Performer Cinnamon Jones wrapped up her set on the steps of City Hall, and said this day is an opportunity to shed light on something that’s been overlooked for too long.

“You got to understand, Juneteenth is the day when we recognized that we were free. It's not the day that we were freed, it was when we found out,” Jones said. “And I used to question, ‘well, why are we celebrating this?’ But no matter what, it's still freedom.”

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.