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STEP AFRIKA! plans special Juneteenth performance for America's newest federal holiday

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 6/18/2021 John Gonzalez/7News
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Juneteenth is being recognized Friday since June 19 falls on Saturday.

And so many special events throughout the DC area take a new meaning this weekend.

LIST: Here's how to celebrate Juneteenth around the DC area

The Sandy Spring Slave Museum in Maryland will be hosting a festival-style open house with music and food Saturday night.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed into law a bill establishing Juneteenth National Independence Day, a celebration designating the end of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday.

RELATED | The story of Juneteenth, America's new federal holiday

The last federal holiday was created in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan established Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The local performing arts group STEP AFRIKA! is inviting the public to join them for a virtual celebration this Saturday night.

Two special performances in the program pay tribute to the Little Rock Nine and George Floyd.

C. Brian Williams, the Founder and executive director of STEP AFRIKA! says the celebration honors and embodies the determination, resilience, and reclamation of freedom with newly filmed choreographic masterpieces inspired by the African American experience.

Caption: C. Brian Williams, the Founder and executive director of STEP AFRIKA! speaks with 7News about{{ }}STEP AFRIKA!'s special Juneteenth performance.

“We are lucky to have one of the Little Rock Nine living in Washington DC at this moment. So I’m really excited to be paying tribute to him. I’d love for folks to google Little Rock Nine if you don’t know about it, learn the history and watch our performance on Saturday at 8 p.m.. See us bring that history to life,” said Williams.

Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn't until mid-June, 1865, in Galveston, TX, that the remaining group of enslaved people was finally freed.

Juneteenth has been celebrated and recognized by many states for decades.

RELATED | OPM: First observance of Juneteenth by federal workers will be Friday

The bill faced only slight opposition in the House of Representatives earlier this week from some Republicans who cast the measure as racially divisive. Despite protests, only 14 members of the House GOP caucus voted against the legislation. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate.

“What’s exciting to me about the movement is that last year around the same time very few people knew what Juneteenth was. Still most people do not but now I think millions and millions of folks recognize Juneteenth. In a sense, it’s America's second Independence Day,” added Williams.

The STEP AFRIKA! program will be free and live on Facebook and YouTube.

WATCH the Juneteenth trailer here.

Tune in SATURDAY JUNE 19 at 8 p.m. ET to Juneteenth, premiering on Facebook, YouTube, and stepafrika.org.

Click here to register.

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