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Flag raising marks the beginning of Juneteenth

Thomas O'Neil-White

Red, black and green against a bright blue Buffalo sky. That is how the flag of liberation looked as it was raised Friday afternoon in Niagara Square to celebrate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth commemorates the celebration to the end of Slavery in the United States. This is the 44th year the City of Buffalo will celebrate. With celebration comes education and Artist and Performer Ras Jomo is promoting Sankofa, a Ghanaian word meaning to look back.

“Go back, fetch and return,” he said. “That means it’s not wrong for us to go and look at our past, find out what was happening, and move forward.”

Jomo said he is on a mission to get out the message of “unity without uniformity.”

Several Juneteenth related events begin next week, culminating in the festival, next weekend, on Genesee Street, around MLK Park in Buffalo’s Masten District. Masten Councilmember Ulysses Wingo said the city is rich with African American cultural history.

“We want to make sure we continue to honor those who have fallen and those who stood up for what’s right in this country,” he said. “And not only that, Buffalo is a historic place because we have a lot of historic people and leadership.”

Wingo listed Mayor Byron Brown, City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams and Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin as people of color who continue to improve the lives of their constituents.

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