Juneteenth marks the last day enslaved people in the United States learned they were free, but in West Philly, the event focused more on the unity within the Black community and the neighborhood.
Shannon Hilbert rode her horse at the park, chatting with her neighborhood peers and reflecting on Juneteenth’s significance. She said the event not only connected people within the neighborhood, but provided the youth a great avenue for learning about the day’s significance.
“I feel like it’s very educational for the kids,” Hilbert said. “You know, they look at it like, ‘oh, a holiday,’ you know, no school … but what does it actually mean? What did our people actually endure to be able to have this space in this opportunity today? So I feel like this is a great thing. Celebrate it today, tomorrow, and up to the next 19th of next month if you have to.”
Abdullah Jhad watched the parade from a lawn chair underneath 52nd Street Station, and was delighted to see the positivity radiating from his West Philly peers.
“Just the peace that’s here, number one, then the quality of life I think is improved by events like this,” Jhad said. “You know, it gives people a chance to come together and socialize in a positive way, so I think that in itself has an impact.”
The festival took place on Father’s Day, and Jhad reflected on the relationship he had with his father who lived to be 90, as well as the relationship with his own children.
“It’s just great being a father, you know, just kind of, you know, seeing a reflection of yourself in many ways,” Jhad said.
Michael Muhammad made sure to tell the dads at the festival “Happy Father’s Day” each chance he could. He took the day to reflect on the impact being a father has made in his life, especially when helping his community.
“If I have something to share, I’m going to share it,” Muhammad said. “I’m going to find a way to get it out, and then you know, hopefully with the will of God, that it will make a difference. That’s what my purpose is, so I want to live out my purpose.”
Multiple Juneteenth events will take place Monday, including the Juneteenth Block Party at the African American Museum, the Fourth Annual Millennial Juneteenth Festival at Kingsessing Rec Center, and featured programming at the Please Touch Museum. Delaware County will also be hosting its Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration.