NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — It was a day filled with joy in Niagara Falls. On Sunday, dozens gathered to celebrate a pair of special events in honor of Juneteenth.
“We thought it would be something nice to have something here in Niagara Falls for the people of Niagara Falls,” Niagara County Legislator Jeffrey Elder said.
Sunday marked the first official Juneteenth parade and flag raising in Niagara Falls. Elder said this was something that was overdue in the city because of its rich history.
"We have the underground railroad right here in Niagara Falls, New York. There's so much history that passed through the grounds that we're on right now. With it being such an important part of African American history, we want the world to know about it,” Elder said.
To get this done, Elder worked with Jacob J. Fleming Sr. who said it feels like a dream come true.
“I feel wonderful. When you have an idea, you see your idea come to fruition, and you see all the people. You see all the kids laughing in the background, you see all the people playing basketball. You know that you had an impact in making that happen,” Fleming said.
Fleming said he understands it’s a start, but he wants more for Niagara Falls. His visions aren’t to compete with Buffalo on Juneteenth, as they have one of the largest celebrations in America.
His visions are for people to see both, and truly understand the culture and history behind the parade in Niagara Falls.
“Well, the ultimate goal is to be one of the largest Juneteenth’s in the country. That’s the ultimate goal. Buffalo is number three, so let’s be number three and a half or four,” Fleming said.
As the Juneteenth flag made its way to the top of the flagpole at city hall, one thing was certain. People were laughing, applauding this success, and joining together in the finest form of unity, but they were aware that things are just getting started.
“This is just the beginning of our Juneteenth festival, and it’s going to get bigger and better every year,” Elder said.