Florence celebrates Juneteenth with events to help people understand meaning behind new holiday

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence residents celebrated Juneteenth at two events Saturday.

MINGLE of the Pee Dee and Qulture of Florence organized the Juneteenth Qulturefest on Palmetto Street. The Stand Fast Project organized the Juneteenth Block Party on Darlington Street. Attendees said they were glad to see the city and federal governments recognize the holiday this year, but there is still work to be done for equality.

“This is Juneteenth, we are celebrating our independence day and just raising awareness for it, letting everybody know what it is,” said Consuelo Casey, owner of Qulture of Florence. The celebration featured live music and vendors. Organizers said the holiday’s recognition signaled progress.

“It’s a great thing,” Les Echols, co-founder of MINGLE of the Pee Dee said, “It really should have been recognized but it’s a great thing that it’s being recognized now as we move forward and become more progressive as a society.” The Stand Fast Project’s founder and CEO Wendy Kale says their event was to let people know what the holiday is about.

“I am 48 years old, but I’ve known about Juneteenth only a year,” Kale said, “I got my team together and said we need to celebrate Juneteenth and let other people know about Juneteenth and be aware of what’s going on, especially the younger people.” Pastor Dr. Aaron Williams said the holiday getting more exposure is a step in the right direction, but people need to continue to push for progress.

“I know it’s going to take great work because anything that’s great or anything that’s worth being great takes great effort, it takes putting in time, it takes sacrifice,” Williams said. He said meaningful change requires people of all different backgrounds to work together.

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