MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The 25th annual Twin Cities’ Juneteenth celebration brought thousands to North Mississippi Regional Park Saturday.

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For many, Juneteenth is a time to strengthen community bonds and reach out to the younger generation. Community elder Naomi Richardson says it is all about passing the tradition forward.

“It helps us to not forget where we came from. It always keeps it alive to help the younger kids, the younger generation to appreciate it and honor it,” Richardson said.

The day started with a breakfast and a bike ride, then thunderstorms. But it wasn’t enough to stop the festivities.

There was much more to do and to share about Juneteenth. Seventeen- year-old Shayla Henderson-Thomas wants teenagers to know why we celebrate this historic day.

“I feel like not a lot of teenagers know about it,” Henderson-Thomas said. “I didn’t know Juneteenth was like a historical thing until recently.”

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Juneteenth, or June 19, is the date that Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended, and that the enslaved were now free.

The word came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The announcement in Texas freed the more than 250,000 slaves whose bondage was not affected by the chief’s executive order.

Richardson says awareness of history starts at home, and parents should share stories from the past with their children.

“Just even in our families, if we just have a book, a history of it to share with our young kids,“ Richardson said.

She believes it could make a difference in the choices they make today and what they end up becoming tomorrow.

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More than 200 cities in 40 states celebrate Juneteenth.

Reg Chapman