One of the largest Juneteenth festivals in the United States is set to kick off Saturday in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Work crews were out in the neighborhood on a cool and blustery Friday, sprucing up the greenspace.
The 44th annual event commemorates the celebration slaves in Texas had after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Thousands of people are expected to be take part in the festivities throughout the weekend. Juneteenth President Marcus Brown says it's an opportunity to get young people together with community elders.
“We have to learn from the people that came before us,” he said. “We need to talk to them.”
Within that framework, Brown said younger generations can have a greater appreciation for what previous generations had to endure.
“We need to reconnect with them to find out how they made it,” he said. “It was worst for them than it is for us. We’re going through some changes now and we need to know how they made it through.”
As a few vendors began putting together their booths up near Parade Avenue, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was at the park inspecting the work being done. Besides the opportunity to try food, buy clothing and watch the parade on Saturday, the mayor said it's a great chance for community outreach.
“We’ve donated four bicycles to our Peacemakers,” Brown said. “So Peacemakers can get out and continue to enhance the outreach that they do to the community with the Buffalo Police Department.”
Brown said the city’s Juneteenth preparations are just about complete.