COLORADO SPRINGS — With the growing awareness about Juneteeth local leaders in Colorado Springs are breaking down the importance of the date and what it means to them.
Reverend Michael Johnson of Cultural Christian Center said, "We all were able to be, as they say, in the land of the free, home of the brave."
It's a day that many people haven't always known about.
Stephany Rose Spaulding, professor of Women's & Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, said, "Juneteenth is the celebration and commemoration of the freedom of the last slave community in Galveston, Texas."
That's when slaves there first learned they were free - more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was made in 1863.
Spaulding said, "Their owners, quote unquote, did not let them know."
Now, more than 150 years later, Spaulding shared that "we continue to celebrate because we recognize the cost of freedom generations later."
The celebration is gaining more followers.
Johnson said, "It's exciting to see that everyone now across the country is really taking a look at something that is really continuously always been our history."
Pastor Ben Anderson of Solid Rock Christian Center said, "It should be taught in our schools. It should be taught in history books."
He believes it should be just as universal as July 4. He said, "For us, as people of color, June 19 would certainly be what we look at as Independence Day."
Spaulding said, "This should be recognized as a federal holiday."
It's just one of the many things Spaulding believes needs to be done moving forward. She said, "When we look at the lives that are screaming, that are yelling 'Black Lives Matter' we still have so much work to continue and doing."