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JUNETEENTH IN JULY: Waterloo commemorates historic holiday

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- Dozens turned out for the first "Juneteenth in July" in Waterloo on Friday, July 3rd.

The event took place in Lincoln Park with a number of vendors and artists performing at the event.

Juneteenth is typically celebrated on June 19th as a way to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

While there have been a number of tough conversations regarding racism in the US lately, organizers in Waterloo wanted the night to be about unity and love.

"This celebration is about the history of Juneteenth, this celebration about reunifying in a time when the rest of the world is pulling apart when we're coming together," said Jamodd Sallis, who's been one of the community leaders for the Black Lives Matter movement in the Cedar Valley.

The event was held, in part, the day before Independence Day to remind people that, while American gained its independence from England in 1776, black people were still enslaved and considered property. Slaves weren't completely free for almost another 100 years on June 19th, 1865.

Aquonn Williams, who helped organize the event, wants to offer support for those who still don't feel equal.

"We should be telling our neighbors, 'We're there for you. We're running this marathon with you.' This is not a race, as I said, it's a marathon that's going to go on forever and ever until the day we hit that finish line and everyone knows they're equal just like the next person," Williams said.

Social distancing was encouraged at the event and face masks were readily available along with hand sanitizing stations.

Organizers hope that this can become an annual event.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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