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Black-owned businesses highlighted during Juneteenth celebration

Posted at 7:37 AM, Jun 19, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A celebration kicking off in Salt Lake City Monday is celebrating Juneteenth with an expo to highlight Black-owned businesses in the Beehive State.

The holiday commemorates when enslaved Black people in Texas became legally free as the state ended slavery two years after all other confederate states.

It became a Federal Holiday in 2021 and Utah adopted it as a State Holiday in 2022.

Festivities in Utah will begin at the Utah State Capitol and continue downtown to The Gateway for a special festival.

Before the holiday, the sights and sounds of Juneteenth were alive on the streets of Salt Lake City.

Everett Spencer plays his Djembe Drum, a musical instrument that originated in West Africa.

"I do that for every occasion," he explained. "I do that for black history stuff...I do all the Juneteenth activities."

Meanwhile, Cleopatra Balfour has been organizing Salt Lake City's Juneteenth celebration since 2021.

"This is our nation’s newest holiday," she explained. "It’s a celebration for all Americans...it’s a celebration for all Utahns."

Along with food trucks, rollerskating, and other activities fit for the entire family, Balfour said the Black-owned business expo is the main attraction of the event.

"We realized that a lot of our minority-owned businesses were really struggling to recover from the pandemic,” she said. "They are going to be feeling the effects of the pandemic for a lot longer than some of our larger businesses."

About 50 business will be showcasing their goods and services at the expo this year and Balfour encourages members of the publis to support them while also recognizing our nation's grown since slavery ended 158 years ago.

"We do have a lot of work to do," she reflected, "but we have come a long way and there’s a lot to celebrate in between there."

The walk from the Capitol building starts at 10:30 while the business expo starts at noon and goes until dusk at The Gateway.