WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The United States no longer has just one independence day, it has two, and folks in Williamsport say it couldn't have come sooner.
"156 years we have been celebrating Juneteenth in various states, at various times. But it was just so much sweeter that now it's a nationally recognized holiday," said Melodie Carter-Shaw, the President Lycoming Tri-county NAACP.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
It's the first national holiday added to the calendar since the government recognized Martin Luther King day in 1983.
The Celebration at Brandon Park in Williamsport marked the holiday by showcasing African-American culture through food, dance, and community engagement.
"I want you to look around and see black people, white people, brown people, yellow people," Carter-Shaw said. We are all getting along. We are all loving one another. We are all respecting one another. We all see the humanity in each other, so that would be the minimum takeaway."
Those who attended the event tell Newswatch 16, they hope by making Juneteenth a federal holiday, it will lead to some much-needed change.
"We've been a little discriminated against black lives, and the way things have been going lately, you know I'm just hoping that it's going to get better, and I'm praying for the best, and this is a step in the right direction," said Denise Brooks from Williamsport.
"We just wanted to celebrate. The fact that this is a federal holiday now, I think, is pretty amazing that it was unanimous in congress. It's clearly time for this to be recognized," said Sara Kelley, a NAACP Member.
This is the first time the Lycoming Tri-county NAACP is honoring Juneteenth in the city, but the chapter hopes to make this an annual event.