LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Today, in REO Town dozens gathered for the 2nd annual 517 Juneteenth Festival. A celebration to commemorate June 19, 1865. It’s a day when almost 4 million African-American slaves were emancipated in the United States.

People from across the state and even the country came together to honor Black culture, Black expression, and Black experiences.

“I think it’s really beautiful. It’s really nice to see and watch as Black voices get thrown into the mainstream as well as build up their community,” Imelda Romero said.

With vendors lined up on both sides of South Washington Avenue, this free event gave people an opportunity to support local Black businesses, Black artists, and the Black community as a whole.

“I think it’s very important to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth not only for our generation but for future generations to know the history and the culture of being Black and what that is founded upon in America,” Jezreel Wallace said.

Mikeyyaustin organized this event and says while recently Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday it’s not new and has a long history of celebration.

“Last year Juneteenth became a federal holiday but Juneteenth has been a thing for the past 157 years. Just because it became a federal holiday doesn’t mean that it’s more legit or anything. We’ve been celebrating it for years,” Mikeyyaustin said.

For Austin, this festival represents where African Americans came from and celebrates where they are going.

“Just thinking about the history, the resilience and just being able to overcome difficult situations and create a future for yourself, obviously everything has not been perfect and there is a still a long way to go but just thinking about how far we’ve come make Juneteenth really special to me. Austin said.