URBANA, Ill (WCIA) — It was a flag raising in honor of Juneteenth. Urbana officials as well as community members gathered around to celebrate the holiday as well as learn about the significance of the day and of that flag.

            “Symbolizing a new beginning for Black Americans in the United States. And the arch that extends across the width of the flag at the intersection of the red and blue sections represents a new horizon,” said Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin as she delivered the mayoral proclamation which officially dedicated June 19th as Juneteenth for the city of Urbana.

Mayor Marlin continued, “Some communities purchased land for Juneteenth celebrations, such as Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. As freed families immigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried the Juneteenth celebration with them.”

Some community members plan to continue the celebrations well into the weekend.

            A non-profit anti-violence organization will be hosting the event as a positive way to celebrate the holiday and welcome the summer.

Maurice Hayes, HV Neighborhood Transformation founder, had this to say, “Our theme this year is to allow the kids to have a summer, let the kids have a summer. We haven’t seen that in a long time. So, let’s get the kids back out having fun riding their bicycles. Baseball, football in the middle of the street. Things that we did when we were children. So, we want to see more of that and less shooting and less killing.”

This celebration serves as a tipping point for a weekend of celebration in Urbana.

Both the city’s HV Neighborhood Transformation and the Kick-off to 40-days of Peace will be this Saturday at Crestview park.