ROCKFORD — Saturday’s Juneteenth observance at Sinnissippi Park celebrating the emancipation of African Americans enslaved in the United States took on a special meaning for Tommy Meeks of Rockford, who has organized Juneteenth events in the city for more than three decades.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a congressional bill into law that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. 

Meeks was on hand in Springfield Wednesday when Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation into law making Juneteenth an official state holiday.

“This is the greatest week for me to celebrate Juneteenth,” Meeks said. “Having the governor invite me down to Springfield and mention my name. Everybody said ‘It’s good you’re getting the recognition while you’re still alive,’ and I said ‘I don’t plan on checking out anytime soon.’ But, it does feel good that people recognize when you work hard for something and believe in it.”