CLEVELAND (WJW) — Juneteenth celebrations continued into the weekend with the NAACP Cleveland branch hosting a freedom walk that started at Benedictine High School near the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.
“It’s really an opportunity for the community to come together around a celebration of freedom. Freedom specifically as it relates to the black community and enslavement of black people in this country,” said the organization’s president, Danielle Sydnor.
She says the event was also a way to empower the black community.
“We’re always in the struggle and so you have to take moments sometimes and count the small wins and count the small victories, but also not lose sight of the long term strategy,” she said.
The marchers made their way up Buckeye Road to the Art and Soul Park at E. 118th where black business owners were set up for the celebration.
“The most important thing that I want people to recognize about Juneteenth and the emancipation of slaves is there were no reparations or any financial restitution paid to individuals that had worked for free. And so one of the things we need to do is circulate dollars within our community but we need the broader community as well to support black-owned businesses,” said Sydnor.
Ward 6 Councilman Blaine Griffin welcomed those who may be new to the area.
“We want you to come by regularly. We’ve got a bunch of shops and businesses out here. We need you to come, be a part of this neighborhood, be a part of this community, not just for today but every day,” he said.
Rhythmic beats of an inter-generational drum circle set the tone as people and children socialized around the park.
Like many other NAACP Cleveland events, a big focus today was also on voter registration and census completion as they encourage people to use their voice.
“We need to elect officials that will change laws around policing, that will change laws around the way dollars are allocated in our communities,” said Sydnor.