DURHAM, N.C. - A large celebration in downtown Durham Saturday marked a major anniversary in the ending of slavery.
This was the tenth year for the Juneteenth event in Durham.
The background goes back nearly 150 years.
Slaves in Texas found out June 19, 1865 that they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
There was a big celebration at that time, and so Durham’s event carries on the tradition with food, music and vendors.
"It's like engrained in the history like we used to be farmers and we farmed and we sold the food and so now we're selling our wares that we make ourselves. So, that's why it's festive because it's like, 'This is what we've done,’” said E. Clement Swan, a vendor at the event.
Victor Taylor came from New Bern to see how Durham celebrated the event.
“It’s making people aware of what Juneteenth is about, what your history is about and learning about your history because if you don't know your history, you'll never go forward,” he said.
About 8,000 people were expected to pack Main Street in Durham for the event Saturday.
North Carolina State Juneteenth Director Phyllis Coley organized the event.
“People are here to celebrate and people and people are understanding. I think our biggest challenge has always been for people to understand what Juneteenth was about and so after 10 years I think people are starting to understand it.”
Coley said she hopes the event will eventually spark a nationwide day of observance.