SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Hundreds of people in the Springfield area came out to Silver Springs Park to celebrate Juneteenth, in an event hosted by the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP.

“We’re happy to gather here today as a community. And we got to have a moment of silence for a past president of the NAACP, Denny Whayne.” Springfield NAACP Chapter President Kai Sutton said. “We also got to honor local black excellence, community activists and small business owners for the work that they’ve contributed to our community.”

Juneteenth is a holiday referring to June 19, 1865. It was the day in which the news of slavery ending had finally reached slaves in Texas. It came over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

Sutton says the turnout Saturday says a lot about the community.

“It means that everything that we’ve done to make people aware of what’s happening today works. And people in the community are just as excited, just as dedicated together too.” Sutton said.

Many in attendance say they’re celebrating because it means to see this community come together.

“I’m out here celebrating the Black excellence, man,” Quenton Wheeler said. “This Juneteenth we just want to have fun and just enjoy ourselves today. Just being here and being around so many different people of different saves, colors, races, you know, and sexual orientation is just a feel-good moment right now.”

“I think it’s really important that kids, especially kids (younger) or that are even my age, that they go out and they let people know how they feel and not even how they feel, but just their opinions on things because they are our next generation.” Tyler Thompson said.

Thompson is the secretary of the Youth Springfield NAACP Chapter.

Thompson added, “We need to know like how they feel about stuff and their opinion because they’re going to be running the country soon.”

State Representative Betsy Fogle was also at the event, handing out awards for Black excellence with fellow State Rep. Crystal Quade.

“One of the things I love most about Springfield is that we come together, and we collaborate so well, and I think you’re seeing us at our best today and celebrating everybody, regardless of what they look like or who they love or anything like that,” Fogle said.