HARTFORD, Conn. — The rain didn't stop community members from coming together in Hartford to celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates the freedom of slaves in the United States.
The city held an event with music, performances and a fashion show at Hartford's Black Lives Matter mural Saturday.
“Celebrating Juneteenth is really critical to this country because we want to make sure all the folks who contributed to building this country are acknowledged,” City of Hartford Director of Equity and Opportunity Karen Taylor said.
Taylor, one of the event organizers, said it's important to come together, especially after a year with the pandemic and racial reckoning.
“So much around accountability for law enforcement. So much about people feeling comfortable within themselves and being able to show up as themselves. I’m thinking about the CROWN Act,” Taylor said.
This year's theme is: Looking Back, Building Forward. Hartford non-profit arts organization ActUp Theater Arts gave a performance inspired by those very words. But it doesn't stop here; the group instills this in their performers and in local students:
"We teach our young people in our program their history, we teach them how to be empowered and we teach them how to have a voice so to be here today, we wouldn’t miss it for the world,” ActUp Founder and Executive Director Faithlyn Johnson said.
She hopes Juneteenth will not just be a celebration, but a day that looks back at history and also sparks conversations around diversity and inclusion. She shared with FOX61 how she imagines that could shape the future.
“Can you imagine a world where we’re all able to be our full selves, to be able to just be and be enough? And so that is what we’re teaching at ActUp Theater and that is the world that we envision for everyone,” Johnson said.