Chicago skyline to light up for Juneteenth

The lighting is a part of a series of events hosted by Cook County commemorating June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people were freed in Galveston, Texas.

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Sam Williams & Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir perform during a news conference about Juneteenth in Daley Plaza in the Loop, Wednesday afternoon, June 16, 2021. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Sam Williams and the Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir perform during a Juneteenth event Wednesday in Daley Plaza.

Ashlee Rezin-Garcia/Sun-Times

The Chicago skyline will be lit red in honor of Juneteenth from Thursday morning through Saturday evening.

Cook County officials and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago announced the lighting plan during an event Wednesday at Daley Plaza that included a performance by the Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir and a speech by Miss Grand International Abena Akuaba Appiah.

“This week we finally give Juneteenth the respect and reverence it deserves as a holiday in Cook County and the state of Illinois.” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “Together we reflect on our shared history and remind ourselves that freedom is just the first step towards racial justice.”

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The lighting is a part of a series of events hosted by Cook County this week to celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved people were freed in Galveston, Texas.

“BOMA Chicago is proud to be a part of the growing recognition of Juneteenth as our country reflects on the many challenges African Americans have faced related to achieving freedom and equality,” Executive Director of BOMA Chicago Farzin Parang said in a prepared statement.

The plan to turn the city’s skyline red was announced the same day that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill making June 19 an Illinois state holiday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday the day will be an official Chicago holiday.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough said she has celebrated the Juneteenth holiday for years.

“On this day, we remember the long struggle of enslaved Africans in Galveston,” Yarbrough said. “But we also recognize the struggle has continued for a very long time in our nation, and the fight for justice and equality in our community continues.”

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