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Celebrations commemorating Juneteenth happening throughout the Tampa Bay area

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 18:03:32-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — People across the Tampa Bay area are recognizing the importance of Juneteenth.

“These are going to be chains broken off, as well as we’re going to show the progression in the African American community,” said Andres Garcia

Andres Garcia is working on a mural that depicts how far Black people in the United States have come. At the top, a quote from Frederick Douglass reads, ‘if there is no struggle there is no progress.’

“It’s a very powerful quote because there’s steps to freedom. There’s a lot of blood, sweat that went towards all of this,” Garcia said.

The mural will be unveiled at Lake Wales first-ever festival honoring the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth. The celebration coincides with the first year Juneteenth is being observed as a US federal holiday.

“To see the national politics, follow along with what a lot of local communities are doing is really encouraging,” said Sara Jones, President of Lincoln Community Development Corporation.

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Lake Wales is one of six Polk County municipalities hosting Juneteenth celebrations Saturday. St. Petersburg and Tampa are also hosting festivities of their own.

“The Deuces is going to actually have four events. There is a B Blades and Three Generation food truck is having a business Expo from 11 am- 5 pm in front of the Manhattan Casino,” said Veatrice Farrell, Executive Director of Deuces Live Main Street.

Friday morning dozens gathered at Tampa's Old City Hall to witness a historic raising of the Juneteenth flag.

“We have to tell the story so others can understand the plight of our people. So, they could understand why we fight for change and inclusion,” said Orlando Gudes, Tampa City Council Member of District 5.

The flag will fly over Old City Hall until June 20.