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Americans celebrate Juneteenth on 1st year it becomes federal holiday

For the first time in 156 years, Juneteenth has become a federally recognized holiday.
/ Source: TODAY

Americans are celebrating two days after President Joe Biden signed into law the bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Juneteenth, observed every June 19, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, when on June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, then the westernmost state in the union, and informed slaves of their emancipation.

Doris Watkins, left, claps with her granddaughter, Zawadi Odhiambo, 4, during the Juneteenth: Freedom Day Block Party outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse on June 18, 2021 in Florence, Ala.Dan Busey / The Times Daily / AP

This year marks the 156th celebration of Juneteenth, a tradition that has long been upheld in southern states and is now officially observed in 48 states, as well as on the federal level.

Take a look at how people around the country are celebrating Juneteenth this weekend.

Alabama

Vicki Goldston, center, and LaQuanda Simpson, right, play African drums during the Juneteenth: Freedom Day Block Party outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse on June 18, 2021 in Florence, Alabama.Dan Busey / The Times Daily / AP

In Florence, Alabama, about 120 miles northwest of Birmingham, racial justice group Project Say Something hosted their annual Juneteenth Freedom Day Block Party. The celebration included African drumming and live music, spoken word performances, catered food, guest speakers and children's activities, according to a post on the group's Instagram.

Georgia

Johnnie Alston leads the Baltimore All-Stars Marching Unit down Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia, during a Juneteenth parade on June 19, 2021.Ben Gray / AP

Multiple marching bands, drumlines and performers converged in Georgia's capital on Saturday as the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival got underway. The party kicked off on Friday and runs all weekend long until Sunday at Centennial Olympic Park, one of the central hubs of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

Kentucky

A young person writes Juneteenth on a wall in chalk during the All Nations Worship Assembly Russell Neighborhood Juneteenth Celebration on June 19, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.Jon Cherry / Getty Images

At All Nations Worship Assembly in the Russell neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, folks gathered for a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday. Russell: A Place of Promise, one of the participating organizations, promoted the event on Facebook as a way to support Black-owned businesses and celebrate art and culture.

Michigan

Lexi Watson, 10, of Flint, smiles as she shouts out with joy with Amethyst, an elite dance company, while marching in one of two Juneteenth parades along Saginaw Street in downtown Flint, Michigan, on June 19, 2021.Jake May / MLive.com / AP

The city of Flint, Michigan hosted a Champions Parade along Saginaw Street on Juneteenth. The parade was part of an initiative to make this weekend's Juneteenth celebrations the largest ever in a city where over 54% of the population identifies as Black or African American, according to U.S. census data from 2019.

Flint resident Tracy Palmer shows off her Juneteenth-inspired nails in downtown Flint, Mich. on June 19, 2021.Jake May / MLive.com / AP

New York

Women wait to perform during a free outdoor event organized by The Broadway League during Juneteenth celebrations at Times Square on Saturday, June 19, 2021.AP Photos

New Yorkers donned their finest for "Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth" shindig, hosted by The Broadway League. The Saturday party featured multiple Broadway stars like Jacqueline B. Arnold, LaVon Fisher-Wilson, Ray Mercer and the cast of Broadway's "The Lion King."

People attend a free outdoor event organized by The Broadway League during Juneteenth celebrations at Times Square on June 19, 2021, in New York City.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP

Oklahoma

A father and son take a selfie at the Black Wall Street Memorial during the Juneteenth Festival in the Greenwood District on June 19, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images

In May, Tulsa, Oklahoma, marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. A month later, residents in the city are celebrating the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival from June 17 through June 20 in Greenwood, the primarily Black district that was home to Black Wall Street and targeted a century ago.

Texas

Opal Lee, 94, walks towards downtown Fort Worth, Texas from Evans Avenue Plaza during the first nationally recognized Juneteenth holiday on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Lee makes the 2.5-mile walk to symbolize the two and a half years it took for slaves in Texas to realize they had been freed.Amanda McCoy / Star-Telegram / AP
The crowd as Opal Lee walks toward downtown Fort Worth, Texas.Amanda McCoy / AP

Opal Lee, known as the "grandmother of Juneteenth" who never gave up the fight to make the holiday a national day of observance, led a massive crowd on Saturday in a 2 1/2-mile walk to downtown Forth Worth, Texas. NBC affiliate KXAS reported that the 2 1/2 miles represented the number of years that it took for slaves in Texas to learn of their freedom.