Detroit celebrates Juneteenth and the widening imprint it left on the city and the country

Detroit spent Juneteenth exploring the both the history of the holiday and Black culture, spending time on the end of slavery and what it means to be free.

From large works of art made in the style of West Africa to stories of escaping slavery, the city hoped to commemorate the legacy left behind by June 19, 1865.

"It's such an important piece of how we connect from as humans - the beat of the drum is the heartbeat - and so how we understand each other is how we use the drum," said Ashley Shaw Scott Adjaye.

Adjaye, who co-founded "The Stories of Us", is talking about a talking drums called dundun. They were on display at Capitol Park on Wednesday. 

So was Jamon Jordan, the city's historian.

"Within the first six months, half a million will escape slavery," he told an audience at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. In depicting why June 19th is now a federal holiday, he said southern slave owners would try to keep the barbaric practice alive as lone as there was space where the Union didn't exist.

"If they can go somewhere where's no union lines closed, they can continue living in slavery. They can keep slavery going," he said.

The Union Army made its way into Galveston Texas when they announced that all enslaved people were free. It happened approximately 2.5 years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

"It was because of our ancestors that we are able to wear these colors with pride and stand tall and feel good about who we are," said Darlena Darrisaw, who attended the celebration.

She wasn't the only attendee excited by the new holiday.

"I love it. I love it. It should have been a federal holiday but thank God they recognized us, so therefore we are a part of history," said Debra Cox. 

Inside the Detroit Historical Museum on Woodward Avenue was an art installation by Kwaku Osei-Bonsu. 

"It’s all about the conversation around reclamation. As we're celebrating Juneteenth, we're talking about the many wonderful things that Black people have contributed to this country," said Bonsu.

The Black Legacy Advancement Coalition also used Juneteenth to raise money to expand housing programs for young adults in the city.

"We’re just celebrating what black people have accomplished in enduring the Jim Crow era and during the transatlantic slave trade and becoming one of the most formidable forces in the world today," said Dexter Sullivan. "We really love seeing our young people on the forefront of that as well."