Buffalo, NY - Mayor Byron W. Brown was joined by Juneteenth Festival organizers and others today in raising the Pan-African flag in Niagara Square in honor of Buffalo’s 46th Annual Juneteenth Festival.
“The City of Buffalo is proudly home to one of the best known Juneteenth festivals in the U.S., celebrating African-American heritage and culture through music, dance, and of course, food,” Mayor Brown said. “While most of the events will be virtual again this year due to the pandemic, Juneteenth weekend still preserves the African American culture in our City.”
The national theme for 2021 is “The Continual Evolution of Juneteenth.” In the City of Buffalo, that evolution is embodied in Juneteenth being an official paid holiday for the first time. City Hall will be closed on Friday, June 18th for the new holiday.
“On this Juneteenth, I am proud that my administration has the most diverse workforce in the history of the city of Buffalo. I look forward to building on all of our actions and continuing to make Buffalo a model for racial equity, social reconstruction and opportunity for all,” Mayor Brown said. “On this Juneteenth, I ask all Buffalo residents to reflect on the many ways a diverse and inclusive community enhances and enriches the lives of all of our residents.”
This year’s Juneteenth festival is presented by M&T Bank in partnership with the City of Buffalo and many other corporate and community sponsors.
Juneteenth Festivals in Buffalo were begun by the B.U.I.L.D. Organization under the leadership of William Gaiter Bicentennial in 1976 as part of Bicentennial celebrations. Juneteenth of Buffalo, a nonprofit organization led by Marcus Brown, and now his successor Jennifer Strickland, continues this legacy and has found creative ways to continue the celebration of Juneteenth.
The mission of the Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, Inc., a nonprofit organization, is to actively preserve and promote the broad spectrum of African American heritage through educational and cultural activities that benefit the community as a whole.
Juneteenth is the oldest known observance of the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration began on June 19, 1865, the day Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas in final execution of the Emancipation Proclamation - two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed it. Juneteenth celebrations today commemorate that memorable day in 1865 and emphasize the achievements of African Americans.