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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Groups across the metroplex gathered to celebrate unity and to offer support for the victims in Charleston.

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People came together for prayer services and for Juneteenth celebrations throughout the day, and Wednesday’s tragic events were never far from their hearts and minds.

The Juneteenth event in Cedar Hill was a joint celebration along with the cities of De Soto, Duncanville, and Lancaster to pay tribute to the Texas announcement of the abolition of slavery, and like many events across DFW, it was a special opportunity to promote racial harmony.

Whether they came for light-hearted fun or to heal a heavy heart, crowds gathered at sites from around DFW with a message of peace in focus. Worshipers at the Saint Paul AME Church in Dallas held a prayer vigil for the Charleston victims.

“The attack on the nine people in that church after bible study is an attack on people of faith everywhere,” Bishop Vashti McKenzie said.

Across town in Mansfield, Chris Luna was one of many at a Juneteenth celebration who couldn’t help but reflect on recent events.

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“When you think about what happened in South Carolina, and when you think about what happened in McKinney, it’s clear there’s still some issues in America,” Luna said.

Despite those challenges some drew encouragement from the numbers of people who came to honor racial progress.

“I think absolutely it sends the right message, at least here in Dallas that we’re diverse, and we’re also inclusive,” Luna said.

Juneteenth marks the day, June 19, 1865, when news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to free all slaves finally reached Texas — two years late.

This year is the 150th anniversary of that June 19th declaration some call the “July 4th for African Americans”.

How can the nation come together to rise above racial tensions? Weigh in on the CBS 11 Facebook page.

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