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Juneteenth celebrations coming to Murray Park in Little Rock

On Thursday, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde declared Juneteenth a holiday. Despite some hurdles due to COVID-19, celebrations are still happening.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde signed an executive order Thursday making June 19 a holiday.

"We've come a long way to this point, but we know we have a lot farther to go,” said Hyde.

RELATED: Pulaski County judge declares Juneteenth as holiday

The holiday now allows all Pulaski County employees to take off work and celebrate Juneteenth, the day of celebrating the end of slavery.

“I hope this grabs some momentum to continue that process forward for better equity, better equality, better treatment, especially in the justice system,” said Hyde. “It’s important that our minority employees, our African American employees especially know they are important to us. And it’s important for our other employees to have the time to recognize and reflect the difficult situations and circumstances that some of our minority employees have.”

Reverend Eric Crowder-Jones with Another Chance Church in North Little Rock fought to keep the Juneteenth celebrations alive this year, despite COVID-19 causing celebration event-cancellations across the country.

"This year is so important because we have a voice,” said Crowder-Jones.

The church group rented out Little Rock's Murray Park for Friday, June 19.

They'll celebrate Juneteenth with free food, music, fun, games, and education.

Crowder-Jones hopes this time encourages others to learn about the true meaning of this day.

"It's important that we do not neglect the duties to celebrate the freedoms that so many people before us fought for,” said Crowder-Jones.

He also hopes this year’s celebration bridges a gap so desperately still needed.  

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“Unified. No matter what side of the water you are on or ethnicity you are, let’s remain unified,” said Crowder-Jones.

The Juneteenth celebration kicks off at Murray Park in Little Rock Friday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to bring a mask.