LIMA — Saturday’s Juneteenth Celebration in Lima had special meaning since President Joe Biden, on Thursday, signed a bill, passed by Congress, declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Juneteenth marks the date, June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas were told slavery was over and they were free.
Lima marked the occasion Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Civic Center, instead of Faurot Park, where it was originally scheduled.
Concerns about the chance of bad weather brought about the change in venue.
Len Archibald, one of the organizers of the Lima Juneteenth Celebration, says the newly designated federal holiday takes things to another level.
“It now has kind of a deeper meaning because we’re not only celebrating Juneteenth as we normally would, as the black community, but now we’re celebrating Juneteenth as an integrated community. There are black people here. There are white people here. There are Asian people here, all to celebrate the emancipation of slavery, which is one of the darkest periods in American history,” Archibald said.
Inside the civic center, black and minority vendors were promoting their goods or services and non-profits and other community groups were handing out information on their services.
Several speakers took the stage, including Clarence Zanders.
“The message is about freedom. Appreciate the freedom that we have and also to know that not only do you have to fight for your freedom, you have to fight to keep your freedom … I want to encourage people to be free and stay free, you know, free from bad relationships, free from what people have to say, free from just anything that holds you from being your God-ordained self,” Zanders said.
Mayor David Berger was there to read a proclamation commemorating Juneteenth in Lima.
He commended Congress and President Biden for making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“It’s certainly a wonderful surprise that the federal government acted so quickly on something that has, I think, been a real important desire on the part of many who have seen the whole cause for civil rights as well as the freedoms that we have as a nation to be something that is truly celebrated for all people,” Berger said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.