Colorado Springs Juneteenth Festival offers celebration and history lesson

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Saturday marked day two of the Colorado Springs Juneteenth Festival, an event meant to bring together several events that have happened for years in the past.

Festival organizers said they hope the festival starts a great tradition meant to celebrate the end of something awful.

“We wanted to bring back what we used to have when we were growing up,” organizer/OneBodyEnt. representative Deandre Smith said. “Two years after Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, the Texas slaves found out they were free. So it took two years to actually find out they’re free.”

“I just imagine what the slave of my ancestors went through being on that ship for so many days,” attendee Jemel Zarzr-Juppah said. “It’s the reason why I’m here, the reason why I’m alive. It means freedom, it means peace.”

The festival offers a history lesson some were never taught.

“I went to a historically black college and, believe it or not, I never heard about it,” said Zarzr-Juppah. “I didn’t know about it until three years ago.”

But Jemel, an immigrant from Liberia, is making sure her daughter knows what the day means.

“I want to make sure I bring her out to every celebration and teach her everything about it during the entire year,” Zarzr-Juppah.

Juneteenth celebrations are nothing new to Colorado Springs.

“In the past years, so many people were doing Juneteenth, you would have one at Hillside, you would have one at Colorado College,” Smith said.

But this year people came together for one joint celebration, one that organizers hope fosters conversation.

“It’s easier for you to have more compassion for others,” Smith said. “Cause you’re more compassionate to somebody you know, even if you see them and are familiar. In order for the community to come together, we have to have stuff for them to come together.”

Together, Deandre hopes for a community that includes everyone.

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