ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the date when thousands of slaves in Texas finally learned they were free. It came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Rochester community will be celebrating Juneteenth this coming weekend.

It has been celebrated within the Black community for generations, but it became more widely celebrated when President Joe Biden officially made it a federal holiday last year. The city of Rochester and Monroe County also officially recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Events like the one coming up this weekend continue to share the history.

Simeon Banister, the president of the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, says this weekend's events are all about collaboration.

The commission is collaborating with The Strong Museum, meaning there will be free admission to the museum from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. The commission is also working with the county to bring Garth Fagan Dance to the event. A collaboration with the Jazz Festival means there will be a full concert with musician Jimmie Highsmith.

"There's just a myriad of other events and things going on," said Banister. "We're going to honor the Urban League Black Scholars; we have the African American Giving Initiative presenting awards to grantees. Lots of wonderful things going on."

"This is an exciting time for us too at Monroe County," said Coringa Crossdale, deputy county executive for Health and Human Services. "This will be the second year in the history of Monroe County that we will be flying the Juneteenth flag. The mayor and county executive tomorrow morning will be reading a proclamation in front of city hall and in front of the county office building."

Banister and Crossdale explained why they believe this event and the celebration of the holiday are important.

"Juneteenth is a critical holiday and it celebrates not only Black culture, and folks describe it as a freedom celebration," said Banister. "To me, Juneteenth is also important because a lot of people get this wrong. They think of Juneteenth as the day that slaves found out they were free; it's actually not true. It takes about two months to walk from Washington, D.C., to Galveston, Texas, where this event happened. And it was two years after the proclamation when folks found out they were free."

"As a governmental institution, I think it's important that we know our history," said Crossdale. "This is part of American history and I think it helps us take a moment during this time of year to learn more about Juneteenth, learn more about how we got to this space and place that we're in today."

The 2022 Rochester Juneteenth Festival is taking place from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in downtown Rochester.