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ST. LOUIS– Dozens of Juneteenth celebrations are scheduled for this weekend in the St. Louis area to commemorate the newly-signed federal holiday. Juneteenth is the oldest national celebration of the US ending slavery. The celebrations originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865. Celebrations are growing in popularity.

 “It marked the beginning of not only African Americans being free, but being aware that they were free, because Juneteenth is really when, two years after the emancipation proclamation, African Americans were well and truly informed of their freedom,” Elizabeth Wyant said. She spent Friday night at the Bayer YMCA celebrating the holiday at its first ever Juneteenth trivia night.

President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. When celebrations are held this weekend, it’ll be the first time people celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

“I was absolutely thrilled, it’s about time,” Linda Kennedy said. Kennedy also attended Friday night’s celebration at the YMCA.

“This is our first Juneteenth celebration, and we are kicking it off with a trivia night here at the Bayer YMCA and wrapping it up tomorrow at the Emerson YMCA with a community celebration,” Emerson YMCA Senior Program Director Philip Hatten said.

Saturday night’s event at the Emerson YMCA is going to include poetry, music, dancing, vendors, food, drumming and more.

“I think Juneteenth is very important because it helps especially someone my age recognize the history that African Americans have struggled with throughout the 200 years of history,”  Edward Scruggs said. This is the first year he is celebrating Juneteenth.

“Everybody in the community should support everyone else in the community, no matter race, creator or religion, we all live here in St. Louis, we all live in this country, we’re all one nation of different people,” Kennedy said.