Nate Rainey, of Forest Park, holds the Juneteenth flag and raises it up on the pole on Monday, June 6, 2022, during the annual Juneteenth flag raising ceremony outside village hall in Forest Park. | Alex Rogals

Juneteenth celebrations kicked off in Proviso Township on June 2, with a flag raising ceremony at Broadview Village Hall in Broadview. The ceremony marks the start of a series of commemorations across the west suburbs.

During the June 2 ceremony, the Juneteenth flag was raised above Village Hall, just below the United States flag, as Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson explained the Juneteenth flag’s significance.

“The red, white and blue was intentional and meant to show that the formerly enslaved and their descendants are free Americans, too,” Thompson said.

“I don’t think as a Black elected official, I should be embarrassed to say I’m Black and I’m proud, which I am,” the mayor said.

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The date on the flag, June 19, 1865, represents the date when Union Army General Gordon Granger announced General Order No. 3, proclaiming that the enslaved people in Texas were free — two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Last year, federal lawmakers made Juneteenth a national holiday and Illinois made Juneteenth an official state holiday. Broadview made Juneteenth an official paid holiday in 2020.

This year, the village is planning a three-day celebration from June 17 through June 19 at Schroeder Park in Broadview. Thompson said this year’s celebration will include a fireworks display, among other features.

Meanwhile, the villages of Oak Park, Maywood, River Forest and Forest Park will jointly host the inaugural West Village Juneteenth Parade and related Juneteenth activities.

Forest Park hosted a flag raising ceremony on June 6 in the parking lot of Forest Park Village Hall in Forest Park.

The parade will take place on June 18, 11 a.m. The route is still being planned, but the parade will end at Proviso East High School, 807 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood, parade organizers said.

On June 18, 7 p.m., at the Forest Park Aquatic Center, 7501 Harrison St. in Forest Park, Forest Park officials will host the annual Juneteenth Family Pool Celebration and Movie Night.

For more information on the parade and festivities, email westvillages619@gmail.com.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com

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