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Parades, performances commemorate Juneteenth this weekend in Chicago, suburbs

Celebrations took place in Evanston, Chicago and elsewhere ahead of the official Juneteenth holiday, which is Monday

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A number of events commenced in the Chicago area on Saturday to celebrate Juneteenth weekend ahead of the official holiday commemorating the end to slavery in the U.S.

Festivities kicked off in Evanston, the first city in the country to issue slavery reparations, with a parade and flag-raising ceremony near the Robert Crown Community Center. The fourth annual parade celebrated the Black community's resilience and contributions, but also recognized that work still needs to be done to achieve equity.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined other elected officials and community leaders for a celebration at Malcolm X College. Elsewhere in the city, the Juneteenth Expungement Forum and Service brought dozens together at Saint Sabina Catholic Church in Auburn Gresham.

Other city churches hosted events, including St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church, which put on its annual African and American Awareness Appreciation Parade in Garfield Park. The focus was on honoring African American ancestry, achievements and struggles, in line with the parade's theme: conquering our past, commemorating our future.

Also in Chicago, young urban artists celebrated Juneteenth, also known as "Freedom Day," through modern dance in the Juneteenth Back to Black Showcase at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University. Participants captivated the crowds using modern urban dance and performing arts to celebrate, value and understand what it means to be Black.

The Girls Like Me Project, a local group dedicated to helping Black teenage girls, sponsored the event as a commitment to help create a safe space for the young urban artists to perform.

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