A group of children joined Nevada politicians in a flag-raising ceremony Saturday morning in Las Vegas in honor of Juneteenth.
The Discovery Children’s Museum hosted the ceremony days after President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing it as a federal holiday. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The holiday has been formally recognized in Nevada since 2011.
“Happy Juneteenth,” Latoya Holman, chair of the museum’s diversity, equity and inclusion council, said to the crowd of about 100 on Saturday morning. “It feels so good to say that and to see all of the amazing different faces say it back, and to also see everyone here embrace it and celebrate it.”
Saturday was the inaugural Juneteenth celebration at the museum, where the first 250 children were granted free entry. Children ran through the museum, stopping at arts and crafts stations to make bracelets or design a Juneteenth banner.
Kandice Stay visited the museum with her two young children, ushering them into a larger room to watch a performance by the stepping group Molodi.
Stay said she’s trying to teach her children about their heritage as they grow up, but she didn’t know much about Juneteenth until visiting the museum Saturday.
“I think it’s awesome,” Stay said. “They’re taking a diversity and cultural experience and making it something educational for our children.”
Politicians addressing the crowd included Gov. Steve Sisolak, Rep. Dina Titus, Clark County Commissioner William McCurdy II and Las Vegas City Councilmen Cedric Crear and Brian Knudsen.
McCurdy said Juneteenth is important as the country works “toward a more complete understanding of our collective history.” The holiday reminds people of the horrors of American history, when enslaved people could not move freely and faced brutal punishments, he said.
“This is our history,” McCurdy said. “And while it may make some of us cringe, may make some of us go back to a time where we would never want to be again, it also provides evidence as to what we can do with the time that we have left.”