'It's about time': Bay Area celebrates Juneteenth as national holiday for 1st time

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Juneteenth celebrations across the Bay Area brought families together sharing renewed excitement over federal holiday.

"It's a celebration of true Black independence," said Richmond native Lauriece Mills, who attended an event at Oakland's Lake Merritt. "It's a day of reflection on our ancestors."

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For Mills, Juneteenth became a teaching moment for her daughter, Nia.

"This is the day that our ancestors got to be freed from being slaves," said Mills reflecting on the sacrifices her grandmother made. "We're still working towards freedom, but we're a lot further than she was."

Unlike years past, this Juneteenth holds special meaning being recognized as a federal holiday for the first time since slavery was abolished in 1865.

"It's about time," said Oakland native Sudani King. "That should've happened a long time ago."

For King, the change symbolizes a brighter future for his kids.

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"It gives them a sense they can achieve anything," said King. "My children can proceed and be President or run Fortune 500 companies."

In San Francisco hundreds gathered off Fillmore sharing the same sentiment. Some even adding the calls for change following George Floyd's death is giving renewed hope for equality.

"It just gives us more reasons to celebrate, more reasons to come together and try to bring more unity to our community," said Leandra Mack.

WATCH: How people came to celebrate Juneteenth in the United States
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Learn more about the history of Juneteenth and what it represents for the descendants of enslaved people and others in the United States.

But not forgetting the sacrifice endured to get to this point.

"It's mixed emotions, it's sad, but at the same time it's rejoicing," said King. "We still have a long way to go."

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