BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WKBW ) Thousands kicked off a weekend of Juneteenth festivities in Buffalo in the annual Juneteenth Parade where participants and floats marched from Genesee and Moselle into MLK Park, where the festival is staged.
Mayor Byron Brown told Eyewitness News that the weather is great, the people are up for a good time, and the community should celebrate.
The celebration is centered on the remembrance of the abolition of slavery hundreds of years ago, and to celebrate African American heritage, particulary with respect to Buffalo.
Rasta Jomo told Eyewitness News that Buffalo played a unique role in the "Underground Railroad" in the 1800's, when African American slaves fled to the north. The Michigan Street Baptist Church helped thousands, and still stands and functions today as a house of worship.
Young children were dressed in traditional garb, while others donned a more contemporary theme to join in the party.
Over 130 vendors are in place at MLK Park with food and crafts.
The Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo was started in 1976 by B.U.I.L.D., a community-based organization, as a culturally relevant alternative to the country's Bicentennial Celebration. The group blocked off part of Jefferson Avenue -- the "Main Street" of Buffalo's Black community -- for a weekend celebration. Murals were painted and vendors set up booths to sell ethnic foods and wares -- entertainment and festivity were abundant. After several years, the Juneteenth Festival outgrew Jefferson Avenue. It is now held in Martin Luther King Jr. Park at the intersection of Best Street and Fillmore Avenue. Juneteenth Festival Inc. received 501(c) (3) status in 1985. In 2000, the name of the organization was changed to Juneteenth of Buffalo, Inc. to reflect its broader mission.
The Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, NY is an important component of summertime events in the Buffalo-Niagara region.
Juneteenth of Buffalo, Inc. exists exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Staffed by volunteers, its mission is to actively preserveand promote the broad spectrum of African American heritage through educational and cultural activities that will benefit the community as a whole.
Juneteenth Festival, Inc. partners with existing organizations with similar community-based objectives to help achieve its mission.
Juneteenth of Buffalo, Inc. Headquarters
is located at 1517 Genesee Street, Buffalo, NY
Address Inquiries to:
Juneteenth of Buffalo, Inc.,
P.O. Box 412, Ellicott Station
Buffalo, NY 14205
Phone: (716) 891-8801