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photo credit: Shutterstock

"It really didn't start as a festival at all, it started as a kind of protest," said Nancy Rogers, chair of the Sonoma County Juneteenth Committee. 

The committee was started by Santa Rosa Junior College students over half a century ago. This is the second year in a row the group's event is virtual due to the pandemic, but Rogers said the turnout this year is expected to double.

"Last year is when more African Americans started to notice here in the county Juneteenth, more white people, other people started noticing," Rogers said. "And it's mostly due to the George Floyd and the protests."

And there are in-person Juneteenth events happening in the county this year.

"There's a very, very small Black community here in Windsor and we just appreciate all the community support," said Letitia Hanke, founder of Santa Rosa-based Lime Foundation.

Hanke will speak at Windsor's first-ever Juneteenth celebration about what the day means for her.

"Everyday that I can walk into a bathroom and It doesn't say whites only and I own a business and can drive and walk into a store, everyday I can do that, that is a celebration of Juneteenth," Hanke said. "I also let people know that the Black community is still fighting for equality, so even though we are celebrating not being in chains and shackles anymore, we are still fighting for equality. So, it's an ongoing battle for us."

Rogers said she hopes people come to the events to celebrate and learn about what the day means.

"We are here and we want to enjoy ourselves and listen to good music," Rogers said. "But we can never never stop knowing that the people that died and was hung and shot and suffered for us did so we can do what we are doing today."

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