A number of events throughout Chicago and the suburbs took place Saturday to acknowledge Juneteeth - the holiday recognizing June 19, 1865, when many enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed.
In Chicago's Austin neighborhood, people of all ages gathered at "West Fest" to celebrate and educate others.
"It is extremely important to be acknowledged, and it helps us spread that to youth, which is what our association is all about," said William Jamison, who attended the celebration.
People were especially excited as the day, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, was formally acknowledged on a national, state and local level for the first time.
"Only in the best way possible - really high energy, high hopes, and I’m really excited to gather with a lot of people, uplifting in the same way," said resident Samantha Berryhill.
In Douglas Park, Tia Brown and her husband hosted the Juneteenth Trades Event, which gave 12- to 21-year-olds a chance to experience different trades ranging from electrician to beautician and event designer.
In Springfield, the flag honoring Juneteenth flew above the Illinois State Capitol Building for the first time in state history this weekend. Similarly, to commemorate the contributions of Black Americans, the city of Chicago raised the Juneteenth flag for the first time in its history earlier in the week.
"What Juneteenth means to me is we are stopping and celebrating the fact that there was slavery that horrific deal, but celebrating we aren’t really free until we are all free," said Ald. Sophia King of Chicago's 4th Ward.
King explained that she believes more work needs to be done.
"Not everybody is free," she said. "Not everyone works for a minimum wage. Not everyone has access to health care. Not everyone has true safety, and those are things we need to fight for and continue to fight for."