Juneteenth — an amalgam of “June” and “nineteenth” — is considered the longest-running African American holiday, and symbolically represents black independence day.

Recent events inspired locals to organize unity and educational events around the day — some for the very first time.

Staff photographer Marsha McLaughlin traveled to three of the four events planned around Juneteenth.

In Lake Helen, a little rain didn't stop a group of intrepid locals from meeting the night of June 19. And in DeLand, high temperatures didn't dissuade people from gathering at the steps of the Historic Volusia County Courthouse and later, marching from the Chisolm Center to the Spring Hill BBQ and Soul Food Lounge.