TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Juneteenth was made a national holiday on Thursday.
On June 19, 1865, General Gordan Granger announced that slaves in Texas were free. The former slaves held the first Juneteenth celebration that following year.
Gloria Howell is the Director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at Indiana University in Bloomington.
She says this holiday is important for many reasons.
"You think about the climate of this country, you think about the Black Lives Matter movement, you think about the systemic oppression black people have endured and continued to endure for years centuries, now more than ever is it important for us to really understand and acknowledge Juneteenth," says Howell.
In Terre Haute, the celebrations are kicking off Friday night at Charlie's Pub and Grill.
Daniel Shouse and Theo Morgan are organizers of the event. They say this is a time to come together as a community.
"We are only as strong as we are in our own community. So we need everyone from Terre Haute, this is a part of Terre Haute's history now. This is a part of all cultures and races and people," says Shouse.
This is their 2nd time bringing a Juneteenth celebration like this to Terre Haute.
"A lot of this is new to a lot of us, a lot of us don't know the history of it, and then with this now being a federal holiday we would like to bring a lot of awareness to what it means," says Morgan.
Howell says it's all the more necessary now to dig deep into African American history.
"We have to dig deeper to look at our culture and our history from a catalyst of change perspective as opposed to a deficit perspective," says Howell.
On Saturday, the celebration continues at noon at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.
There will be free food, games, and plenty of vendors to choose from, and many more.