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Wilkes-Barre celebrates Juneteenth

The Diamond City celebrated the holiday with the renaming of a beloved park.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A Juneteenth celebration fills Coal Street Park in Wilkes-Barre with hundreds of people honoring the day slavery ended in the United States.

"I think a day like today deserves celebration, some commemoration," said Jimel Calliste, President of Wilkes-Barre NAACP.

And in that spirit, the city and the local chapter of the NAACP are giving the park a new name.

The sign now reads 'Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park'. NAACP members say it's been a long time coming for this moment.

"This is something we have been trying to get done for 30 years, initially it was the renaming of Wilkes-Barre Boulevard but it resulted in the renaming of Coal Street Park," said Ronald Felton, Former President of Wilkes-Barre NAACP.

Coal Street Park is the heart of the community and now it will continue on in Dr. King's legacy

"We felt like this was the perfect place to have that homely feel, we felt this was the place that doctor King's vision and mission can come full circle," said Calliste.

Rod Taylor and his family from Wilkes-Barre share years' worth of memories at this park and are excited to have several generations witness the dedication.

"It's a good thing, it's a very diverse neighborhood and we need things in this neighborhood for everybody," said Rod Taylor, Wilkes-Barre.

Former president of the Wilkes-Barre chapter of the NAACP, Ronald Felton, says while progress has been made throughout the years there is still more work to be done.

"We have the opportunity to move forward and not allow ourselves to move back. The way things are going now our democracy is in jeopardy so we must fight to maintain it," said Felton.

That's why so many families are bringing their children to Juneteenth celebrations like this to teach the next generation.

"So they can know what happened where they come from, at least some of it, and keep giving them knowledge and help them grow and understand," said Shay Robinson, Wilkes-Barre.

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