SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A celebration that is not new, but does have a new distinction.
“Oh Juneteenth, you know, that’s Black peoples’ Fourth of July. When they had the Declaration of Independence in 1776, we were still slaves,” Porter Williams, Juneteenth Grand Marshall 2021, said.
The Establishing Sustainable Connections organization has been hosting a Juneteenth celebration in Sioux Falls for five years, but this one was different.
“This year, our goal was to make it bigger and better than ever,” Julian Beaudion, vice-president of ESC said. “And with the signing of the legislation here last week, we really had the opportunity to make this the premiere event in Sioux Falls.”
This year was also the first time they’ve recognized a grand marshall of Juneteenth. The first-ever recipient of that honor was Porter Williams of Sioux Falls.
“When the Black community gives you some sort of recognition, that has to be an honor,” Williams said. “And it was an honor.”
Two days ago, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. From food and music to vendors and inflatables, there was a party celebrating independence going on at Terrace Park today.
“For Juneteenth, the importance for us in the Black community is that we’ve never really been able to celebrate July Fourth, honestly, the way any other American has, because, when our ancestors were enslaved, they did not have the opportunity to celebrate that freedom day,” Beaudion said. “This is our freedom day. This is our emancipation day and we’re going to celebrate it as such.”