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Juneteenth celebration draws hundreds to Fort Monroe

On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced he planned to introduce legislation that would make Juneteenth a state holiday.

HAMPTON, Va. — People participated in several events Friday to celebrate Juneteenth. There was a particularly special event held at Fort Monroe.

The group “Black Lives Matter 757” held a Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration at Oozlefinch Beers & Blending. It was a family-friendly and free event. People brought drums, trumpets, signs, and positive vibes. 

It was an outdoor event and people were invited to speak on the microphone to say what Juneteenth means to them.

Young people, older people, and all races were there to celebrate Juneteenth. The event was special for many because Fort Monroe is where the first African slaves arrived in English North America in 1619. Back then, it was Point Comfort. 

That’s why Black Lives Matter 757 chose the location.

RELATED: '20 and Odd:' Africans' Arrival in 1619

“Today we want to celebrate our ancestors, celebrate that it’s finally being recognized as a state-wide holiday,” Aubrey Japharii Jones said. “We just want to take care of home, that’s why BLM 757 was started in the first place.”

On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced he planned to introduce legislation that would make Juneteenth a state holiday.

That's to commemorate June 19, 1865 - the date former slaves in Texas first heard that they had been emancipated by a proclamation from Abraham Lincoln, about two and a half years earlier.

During Northam's news conference, he said the state had recognized this anniversary before with proclamations, but it was time "to do more." This is the first year that some state executive workers will get a paid day off on June 19 to commemorate the anniversary.  

RELATED: This Weekend: "Feeding 5,000" Juneteenth Celebration in Newport News