PLANO – The city of Plano made history last year as the first community in Illinois to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.
Plano’s second annual Juneteenth celebration will be from noon to 8:30 p.m. on Father’s Day, June 19, next to Emily G. Johns School, 430 Mitchell Drive.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. Its origin was in Galveston, Texas, one of the most remote locations in the defeated Confederacy.
On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger declared freedom for those enslaved in Texas, enforcing President Abraham Lincoln’s Jan. 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation.
The day has been observed in parts of the country ever since and has spread throughout the nation. Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come together in a positive way,” said Plano Alderman Jamal Williams, chairman of the Juneteenth celebration in Plano.
The event is for everyone, Williams said, not just African Americans.
“I want people to feel they can rejoice together,” Williams said. “This is a festival everyone can enjoy.”
The event will feature a full slate of entertainment, with DJ Allen McNealy all day.
Plano Cub Scout Pack 317 will give a special presentation on the meaning of Juneteenth at 1 p.m, followed by an interpretive dance performance by Madison, Savannah and Noelle at 1:15 p.m.
The Yorkville High School Step Team will perform at 2 p.m., followed by the E-Minor R&B band at 3 p.m.
Winners of a coloring contest scholarship will be announced at 5 p.m.
Comedian Torris Brown will bring laughs at 6 p.m., Bobby Clayton get the crowd dancing with the sounds of Motown at 7 p.m. and spoken-word artist Joshua Benard will provoke thought at 7:30 p.m.
Natia Barton will present a special tribute to fathers at 8 p.m.
A fireworks display at dusk will top off the celebration about 8:30 p.m.