Amid the lively celebrations at the Juneteenth block party in Newtown on June 17 were thoughts of the progress of the Black community over time.
"It means everything to me," Anthony Johnson said of the holiday. "It speaks to our progress within society."
Juneteenth takes place on June 19, the anniversary of the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people would be freed, two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The event brought together local food vendors including CJ's Barbecue and Inga's Catering & More and organizations like Second Chance Last Opportunity, along with live music.
Preceding the block party was the Juneteenth Freedom Day Cookout held at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library on June 16. Johnson, a youth literacy advocate and former county employee for whom the library is named, was in attendance.
"For (Juneteenth) to be celebrated at the library here in the Newtown community, that's just awesome," she said.
Lisa Gilbert, whose 8-year-old granddaughter, Aubrie Stilwell, is biracial, said she makes a point of attending the block party each year.
"We just look forward to this," she said. "Aubrie needs to understand her heritage."
April Glasco, the founder and CEO of Second Chance Last Opportunity, said the event offered an opportunity for the whole community to be involved.
"It doesn't matter the color of your skin. We're all here to help support and care for one another," she said.