It may have been a little chilly with the wind coming off Lake Superior, but the sun was shining and Juneteenth attendees looked to the past and the future Saturday in downtown Duluth.
The celebration is held to commemorate when the slaves in Galveston, Texas, found out they were free -- two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, said Salaam Witherspoon, community coordination chair for the Duluth chapter of the NAACP.
"The celebration is acknowledging our past," Witherspoon said. "We need to remember our past but not get stuck in the past. We have to look to the future, too."
As part of looking to the future, Witherspoon said she tends to have youth involved in the celebration. One of those ways is by making the event family friendly.
"In African American culture, we tend to celebrate and encourage self-development, so by having it more family-oriented we bring in more community," Witherspoon said. "It's just nice to be around the community and people you recognize. "
There were a lot of activities for children at the event, including face painting, bounce houses, and arts and crafts. The event also featured free food, live music and poetry. Mizjanetta Paul, 18, of Duluth, read original poems at the start of the event. One of those poems was named "Juneteenth."
"The day where my people are finally seen as people, not property; the day my people were given back our God-given right; the day my people began to love life again," Paul read from his poem. "In a new beginning can I talk freely while still being black? No, because ears are never opened enough to hear us; eyes are never on us long enough to see the great things we are doing. This is why we celebrate this day. To remind ourselves that there is still a war to be fought for justice."