Juneteenth holiday celebrations in Las Vegas, Henderson

Cameron Carter, 5, jumps rope with his mother Diana Carter during a Juneteenth event at Whitney ...

Las Vegas Valley residents began Juneteenth celebrations Saturday with festivals, music and education on the newest federal holiday.

Juneteenth remembers June 19, 1865, when a Union general told enslaved African Americans in Texas that the war had ended and the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect.

In a proclamation in June 2021, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America. Before 2021, the last federal holiday to be approved was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

“When you recognize people, it makes them feel good,” Henderson resident Brenda Long said Saturday. “I’m hoping this will educate some people.”

Long and her friend Lauren Foster were among the first people inside Whitney Ranch Recreation Center’s Juneteenth Festival on Saturday morning. They both moved to Henderson five years ago and enjoyed the chance to discover a community center they had not been to in their neighborhood.

Long said she hoped to see the valley’s Juneteenth festivities grow over the years. The Juneteenth Festival is expected to move to the Water Street Plaza on Sunday, and the city of Las Vegas plans a celebration Saturday night.

Rahwa Ghebrecistos took Saturday’s festival as the first chance to launch her brand, Nyati, which sells T-shirts and framed portraits of Black unicorns with different hairstyles.

Ghebrecistos said her 7-year-old daughter, Eliana Haddish, wanted to decorate her room with unicorns last year, but noticed that all the unicorns in the stores were white and none had Eliana’s curly hair.

Nyati features three types of unicorns in various shades of black and brown, one with Bantu knots, one with curls and one with an Afro.

“We were stuck in the house and couldn’t do anything else, so we made our own unicorns,” Ghebrecistos said. “Unicorns could be anything you imagine. They should be unique.”

Ghebrecistos, a mother of three, said she was hoping Haddish would learn how to grow a business by working with her mother Saturday. The girl handled money and talked to customers about Nyati.

“The unicorns were all white in the store, so now we have something that’s brown, the African unicorns,” Haddish said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.