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H-F Juneteenth Festival and Parade returns for third year

The third annual H-F Juneteenth Festival will return on June 17 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The festival will take place in the South parking lot of Homewood-Flossmoor High School, 999 Kedzie Ave. 

On June 19, the Juneteenth Parade will step off at 9 a.m. at Western Avenue Elementary School, 940 Western Ave., and end at Parker Junior High School, 2810 School St. Both events are sponsored by You Matter 2. 

You Matter 2 is a nonprofit organization that provides youth in the South Suburbs with development opportunities to shape them as leaders, expose them to new experiences and guide them in building connections in their community and abroad. 

Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in the United States, was the day the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. 

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On June 16, 2021, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to make Juneteenth a state-wide holiday. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. 

The H-F Juneteenth Festival came to fruition in 2021 following the year of racial tension in America after the death of George Floyd.

Destiny Watson, founder and CEO of You Matter 2, envisioned a celebration that increases the awareness of Black culture and businesses and highlights the diversity in the community. 

“The Homewood-Flossmoor Juneteenth Festival is an embodiment of our commitment to creating a platform that empowers and uplifts our community,” Watson said in a press release. “We are incredibly proud of the growth this event has experienced and the impact it has had on promoting cultural awareness, economic empowerment, and unity within our community.”

In one year, the festival has become the largest Juneteenth celebration in the South Suburbs of Chicago. 

The festival expanded to create a parade to accompany it annually. 

This year’s parade will highlight marching bands, dance and drill teams, organizations, Divine 9 fraternities and sororities and more.

This year’s festival will feature vendors, food trucks, activities for children and entertainment. Emmy Award-winning personality Samantha Thomas will emcee the festival. 

Twenty-one food vendors and 149 tent vendors are expected to be in attendance. Vendors will showcase an array of retailers, nonprofits, artists and several others. 

In previous years, performers included 40+ Double Dutch Club and the Jesse White Tumblers. 

Both the Juneteenth festival and parade are free and open to the public. For more information about the festival and parade, visit www.hfjuneteenthfestival.com

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