Eugene hosts first Juneteenth celebration

Even though Eugene hasn't declared Juneteenth an official holiday -- celebrations are underway.

Posted: Jun 19, 2020 7:06 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Even though Eugene hasn't declared Juneteenth an official holiday -- celebrations are underway.

The group "Black Unity" hosted the city's first ever celebration of the holiday.

Starting at 2 p.m. Friday, people went to Skinner Butte Park to enjoy food, drinks, music, and of course listening to speakers about the importance of this day.

But, obviously, this comes with concerns from many in the community who say -- now is not the time to have a block party.

Many people were respecting the guidelines in place -- in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus -- all while showing their respect for the holiday.

Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19 as a way to commemorate the day all slaves were officially freed from captivity in America, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

On Friday amid calls for police reform and countless Black Lives Matter protests across the world, the holiday takes a new meaning.

Cole Knox said this is a culmination of centuries worth of fighting.

"Black is beautiful. You know we are out here celebrating black lives and people in my community are just searching for that celebration of what we've been searching for four hundred years," he said.

Organizers are required by the city to keep things in compliance with coronavirus guidelines to prevent community spread. 

People were encouraged to wear masks, hand-washing stations were set up, and food is being served as opposed to self serve options.

Officials with the city said they approved this event and although it's up to them to decide whether or not they'll approve a park permit -- it comes down to those who are attending to follow all the guidelines in place.

The event goes until 9 p.m.

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