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CHICAGO A youth rally and car caravan were among local celebrations for Juneteenth on Friday, as the day becomes an official federal holiday.

A youth rally at Columbus Park organized by the Chicago Park District began today’s celebrations, with union members from SEIU holding a press conference near Mercy Hospital before beginning a car caravan towards the intersection of 39th Street and Wabash Avenue.

Juneteenth marks the date when enslaved workers in Texas were freed on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Those speaking at the union-sponsored event today called for living wages, community investment, workplace rights and racial equity.

A three day ‘1865 Festival’ is also taking place this weekend at the Garfield Park Golden Dome, honoring Black veterans and military members.

The event will feature cultural workshops and a live gospel concert in the music circle, with the event running from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m a mother of a 10-year-old Black boy, so it is heartwarming and awesome to see this become a holiday that celebrates our freedom differently,” SEIU political director Candis Castillo said.

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