WATERLOO — One year after President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday, Waterloo residents continued to celebrate just as they have for the past 27 years.
Hundreds gathered over the weekend at Gates Park to celebrate their heritage while learning more about the holiday through trivia and other activities.
Vendors were on hand to sell food, clothing, jewelry and more to attendees as children played basketball on the four courts, along with other games.
Event organizer and Black Hawk County NAACP President LaTanya Graves gave awards to residents for being entrepreneurs of Black-owned businesses, young leaders in the community or for scholastic achievements.
Waterloo East High School senior Alonzia Quinna and Waterloo West High School senior Jordan Wallican were recognized for being this year’s valedictorian for their schools — the first time both schools have had Black students as valedictorian — and for receiving full scholarships to Stanford University and Harvard University, respectively.
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Juneteenth, in one form or another, has been an annual celebration in America since June 19, 1865, when the final African-American slaves were emancipated in Galveston, Texas, following the end of the Civil War.
Festivities on Saturday were capped off with a concert featuring Felicia Smith-Nalls. The celebration continues Sunday with church services and a meet your City Council members event at 10 am and 30 & over Basketball League at 4 pm at Gates Park.
Photos: 27th annual Juneteenth celebration in Waterloo