KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The city of Knoxville celebrated Juneteenth on Monday. In January, the city had to cancel its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade because of the weather. It was rescheduled for Monday and took place alongside a Juneteenth tribute.
Bands, churches and members of community organizations walked about two miles together on the parade route. City leaders, including new KPD Police Chief Paul Noel and Mayor Indya Kincannon were among those leading the way.
“The whole city is out here to celebrate Juneteenth, which is a celebration of freedom. We unfortunately have a very challenging history of enslaved people, but we also have a history of freedom, and this is one day where we celebrate that,” Kincannon said. “We’ve got kids, we’ve got police officers, we’ve got elected officials, people from the city, people from the county, people from the schools, from the University of Tennessee, all here to celebrate Juneteenth, and also our belated King Day parade, which had to be canceled due to the ice storm in January.”
The parade ended at Dr. Walter Hardy Park, where the Beck Cultural Exchange Center’s Juneteenth memorial tribute followed.
“I hope that people will come away from this event and every year on Juneteenth with a resolve to be better,” said Rev. Renee Kesler. “Each of us have something that we can do. Each of us can do something to leave this world better than we found it. That is the charge. That as we hear about injustices, as we hear about the unjust history or systemic issues that we have dealt with throughout our history, what is your role to play, what can you do to make sure that history in the future is much brighter than it was in the past.”
Kincannon said Juneteenth will be a paid city holiday starting next year.