MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The city of Miami Beach is commemorating the 155th Juneteenth Independence Day by holding a ceremony at Pride Park.
Juneteenth is the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage.
Friday’s ceremony began at 9 a.m. at the southwest corner of the park at 1809 Meridian Ave.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber spoke at the event, as well as Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar.
“As I stand here today as an ancestor of those who were brought here by force, I stand here by choice,” Wagar said.
Friday marked the first public celebration and commemoration of Juneteenth at Pride Park.
“The journey for equality doesn’t have a beginning or an end point, and the struggle can’t ever expect to feel a moment of final victory,” Gelber said.
City leaders recognized the 155th anniversary of the day slaves in Texas were notified of the end of legal slavery years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“I’ve seen the struggle being on the beach as a black person,” Miami Beach resident Brenda Jordan said.
Jordan has lived in Miami Beach for 25 years
“To see this day is very special for me because we’ve gone through so much to reach here where we’re being acknowledged and added to the community,” she said.
The ceremony included the planting of a rainbow eucalyptus tree “to symbolize and celebrate the contributions of African Americans to Miami Beach and an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence to reflect on the past, present and future,” a news release from the city stated.
“People don’t really know about it, so I’m glad that they did this so more people can really know the history, because I didn’t learn about it in school,” event participant Egyptia Green said.
Those who are attending the ceremony are encouraged to write a positive word or message on stones that will be placed under the tree.
Juneteenth was also commemorated Friday morning at the Masjid Al-Ansar in Miami, where a group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders, as well as local politicians and civic leaders discussed the healing of Liberty City.