Boston celebrates anniversary of slavery's end on Juneteenth

Commemorations in Massachusetts and across the country memorialize the date when the last enslaved people were freed in Texas after the Civil War

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People across the country and in Massachusetts commemorated the end of slavery in the U.S. on Wednesday.

Juneteenth celebrations have existed since the end of the Civil War, but it only became a federal holiday three years ago.



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From flag raisings to parades, folks across the commonwealth had a day off and took time to reflect on the country's past and its future.

Freedom Day, Second Independence, or emancipation are the different ways Juneteenth is known.

"To be able to learn about it now, it's not too late," said Boston artist Leshonda Zene.

Through her paintings is how Zene honors the historic day when thousands of remaining slaves in Texas were declared free in 1865.

"The history of Juneteenth isn't a pretty one, but it's also a beautiful start of something," said Zene. "When people learn about it, they only think of one type of slavery, not understanding that there is slavery of all kinds."

Hundreds of people spent the newest national holiday by taking advantage of the free entry at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, where visitors were able to learn about -- and celebrate -- Black culture.

"It makes us think about … 'Is our community living up to the ideals that we wanted to have, and if not, how can we continue to make it better?'" said museum guest Larry Alberts.

The Juneteenth flag was raised above City Hall in Framingham Tuesday, a day before the holiday.

"We have to remember that despite what goes on, we have to keep going, and we have to focus on what is right and what is beautiful and not just all the pain that is in our world today," said another patron, Karlis Collins.

Symbols of that history can be seen across Massachusetts, including at the State House, where the Juneteenth flag was raised on Wednesday.

"Today is a day of commitment – recommitment to fight for fundamental freedoms equal treatment under the law," said Gov. Maura Healey during the flag raising ceremony.

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