(WIVB)–Normally on Juneteenth MLK Park is filled with people celebrating this day. Because of the coronavirus pandemic that’s not possible but organizers wanted people to still celebrate so they took things digitally.
“This is not the normal way that we do Juneteenth. I know that we miss the parades I know that we miss being together, I know we miss the food. But it’s still Juneteenth,” said Darius Pridgen, Pastor at True Bethel Baptist Church and Buffalo Common Council President.
And still a day organizers want people to participate in.
“Just because we have to stay socially distant doesn’t mean we can’t connect in meaningful way,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
“This year Juneteenth is not in the park but this we’re still on but it’s online,” said festival board member Jennifer Strickland. “Juneteenth is meant to preserve and promote African American heritage through education and cultural activities. You’ll see all kinds of wonderful things As you sit back and relax in your comfortable places in your backyards, on your porches. Waving your liberation flag.”
The virtual celebration included moments of worship, song, yoga, and a chance for people to talk about the history and issues involving racial injustice.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve stood together in the face of adversity, whether it’s keeping our community healthy with food during covid, building houses for future generations, or fighting injustice, unites we stand together we cannot be defeated,” said organizer India Walton.
Organizers used social media as a way to connect and celebrate this tradition, and although it was celebrated differently than in the last 45 years, the virtual festival still reminded the community how important this day is.
“That is what Juneteenth is about. How we became stronger. How we became better and how we achieved in spite of the circumstances,” said Pridgen.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.