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Watertown honors Juneteenth with flag raising

Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 4:38 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) -Saturday was Juneteeth, our nation’s newest federal holiday.

The day commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the U.S., and recognizes the contributions African Americans have made in history.

There were celebrations in the north country Saturday to honor African American history, culture, and progress, starting at Watertown City Hall with a raising of the Pan-African flag.

Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith declared Juneteenth to be a holiday in Watertown and noted the progress that the day signifies.

Bianca Ellis gave a speech about the impact African Americans have had not only in our nation, but in our area specifically. She says this day does bring up difficult conversations about the past, but that is what will help unify Americans.

“It’s the beginning of America’s healing process. And it’s scary because healing hurts. Healing hurts. It’s gonna get rough. Pulling off bandages doesn’t feel good. But it’s exciting that were in that process now,” said Ellis.

Flag-raising spectators say this is a huge step forward for the area.

Letasha Redmon says this is meaningful, especially for the children who were in attendance, as it provides a positive influence that they are accepted and supported by their community and should be proud of the ancestors who have paved the way for them.

“For me and my family, a day like this is progress. We’ve had a tremendous year of negativity towards our community and I think this means we’re making progress. It means nothing but pride to me and my family that I can share this with them,” said Redmon.

Dozens of people came to the flag-raising, now it will be an annual ceremony.

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