SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The 2011 Juneteenth Festival kicked off in Syracuse Thursday with the Ancestral Dinner Celebration. It was held at the City Hall Atrium.
Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19th 18-5, when all slaves were truly freed in America.
This year, the festival is being held in Jubilee Park and Clinton Square and aims to share African American history and culture with the local community. It features ethnic foods and music, as well as visual and performing arts. It also honors African American members of society who contribute to the community in which they live.
"We kick it off with a tribute to our ancestors and the community that we serve. Tonight we'll be awarding what we call a Nee Award. Nee is a Swahili word that means purpose. And we award that to someone who serves some purpose to the community," said Duane Owens, Juneteenth Board President.
The festival is free of charge and runs through Sunday.