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Millions of Americans celebrate Juneteenth with anti-racism marches and peaceful rallies

Millions of Americans joined together on Juneteenth to celebrate the abolition of slavery with anti-racism marches and peaceful rallies held to celebrate Black lives –  as New York City and other places formally makes Juneteenth an official holiday.   

The Juneteenth celebrations held across the United States are meant to be a commemoration of progress, but they’re being held amid nationwide protests fighting racial injustice at the hands of law enforcement. 

The death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was killed in police custody, and other minorities has brought a heightened sense of urgency to call for equality during this year’s celebrations.   

Juneteenth revelers this year have traded in traditional cookouts for marching, holding sit-ins or car caravan protests.  

In New York City, thousands of residents flooded local parks, streets and plazas across all five boroughs. 

Millions of Americans took to the streets to hod anti-racism protests and peaceful demonstrations on Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the liberation of enslaved African-Americans  in the US on June 19, 1865 (pictured)

The usually joyous Juneteenth celebrations com amid a  time of great racial tensions and a push back against police brutality after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes

The usually joyous Juneteenth celebrations com amid a  time of great racial tensions and a push back against police brutality after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes

Several cities, including Atlanta, Washington D.C. and New York City saw thousands of residents come together to commemorate Juneteenth with peaceful protests, marches, walk outs, street blockades and dance parties to fight against systematic racism

Several cities, including Atlanta, Washington D.C. and New York City saw thousands of residents come together to commemorate Juneteenth with peaceful protests, marches, walk outs, street blockades and dance parties to fight against systematic racism

Pictured: Crowds of New Yorkers participate in a march in Brooklyn for both Black Lives Matter and to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth

Pictured: Crowds of New Yorkers participate in a march in Brooklyn for both Black Lives Matter and to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth

In Los Angeles, a resident named Jasmine Jackson (pictured) burned incense at a prayer alter during a Juneteenth celebration on Friday. The alter was decorated in protests posters that read 'We Will Breathe!' and 'Say Their Names!'

In Los Angeles, a resident named Jasmine Jackson (pictured) burned incense at a prayer alter during a Juneteenth celebration on Friday. The alter was decorated in protests posters that read ‘We Will Breathe!’ and ‘Say Their Names!’

A man depicting himself as Jesus Chris rests against a cross at a Black Lives Matter protest during events to mark Juneteenth at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, in Washington, D.C (pictured)

A man depicting himself as Jesus Chris rests against a cross at a Black Lives Matter protest during events to mark Juneteenth at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, in Washington, D.C (pictured)

Photos from Central Park showed dozens of demonstrators raising their fists as they marched through the city. In Brooklyn, a group of dancers in face masks performed in front of hundreds of Black Lives Matter signs in protest.

One man at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn dressed an a prison inmate with shackles near a makeshift stand reading ‘Police Reform.’

In Harlem, organizers prepare for a Juneteenth march on Saturday that is expected to see an unprecedented number of attendees.  

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced that Juneteenth – a combination of the words June and Nineteenth – will become a New York City holiday for city workers and students in 2021. 

Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo made June 19 a holiday for state workers earlier this week.

Protest signs reading 'Defund NYPD,' 'No Justice, No Peace' and 'Black Lives Matter' were held in the air by demonstrators in New York City on Friday as they fought against police brutality

Protest signs reading ‘Defund NYPD,’ ‘No Justice, No Peace’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ were held in the air by demonstrators in New York City on Friday as they fought against police brutality 

Rama Guzma (pictured) wore a prison jumpsuit and chains at a Juneteenth rally at the Barclay's Center in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City

Rama Guzma (pictured) wore a prison jumpsuit and chains at a Juneteenth rally at the Barclay’s Center in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City

(left to right) independent dancers Fana Tesfagiorgis of New York, Danial Moore of Suitland, Md., Chawnta Marie of Los Angeles, and Krystal Butler of Washington, pose for a performance with of hundreds of signs put up along the front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building on H Street and 16th Street Northwest renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington

(left to right) independent dancers Fana Tesfagiorgis of New York, Danial Moore of Suitland, Md., Chawnta Marie of Los Angeles, and Krystal Butler of Washington, pose for a performance with of hundreds of signs put up along the front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building on H Street and 16th Street Northwest renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington

A man wearing a 'Black solidarity' shirt carries a young child as they march near Central Park as part of a Juneteenth celebration march in New York City

 A man wearing a ‘Black solidarity’ shirt carries a young child as they march near Central Park as part of a Juneteenth celebration march in New York City

Two women holding protest signs march through downtown Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday as dozens of residents gathered for Juneteenth

Two women holding protest signs march through downtown Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday as dozens of residents gathered for Juneteenth 

Washington Wizards players, Washington Mystics players and supporters stand at the base of the Stone of Hope while participating in a march and rally to observe Juneteenth (pictured)

Washington Wizards players, Washington Mystics players and supporters stand at the base of the Stone of Hope while participating in a march and rally to observe Juneteenth (pictured)

Dozens of Black Lives Matter demonstrators arrived near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to protests police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities on Friday

Dozens of Black Lives Matter demonstrators arrived near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to protests police brutality against African-Americans and other minorities on Friday

‘Our city has a lot to be proud of in terms of being a place where everyone could come together and do something different. But our city also has a very painful history,’ de Blasio said during a press briefing.

‘Slavery was alive and well in New York City for a long time. New York City gained much of its prominence and wealth from slavery.

‘Redlining, discrimination of every form existed here in liberal, progressive New York City for generations, and in too many ways discrimination is alive and well today.

‘Structural racism pervades this city in ways that are still not acknowledged and recognized. We have to change that.’

First Lady Chirlane McCray, deBlasio’s wife who is Black, said a Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission will be formed to ‘establish a definitive historical record of racial discrimination in New York City.’ 

De Blasio visited Staten Island on Friday, where community volunteers came together to paint a second Black Lives Matter mural on the street near the 120th Precinct. 

Cordell Cleare, a community activist who serves on the Juneteenth Committee of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz in Harlem, said the recognition the holiday is now receiving is ‘sad and joyful.’

‘I’m sorry that it took all of this, but I’m glad it’s finally being given some recognition. It’s sad and joyful at the same time,’ Cleare told The New York Times.

A man wearing a mask and hat in support of President Donald Trump, foreground, exchanges words with people attending a Juneteenth rally in Boston, Massachusetts

A man wearing a mask and hat in support of President Donald Trump, foreground, exchanges words with people attending a Juneteenth rally in Boston, Massachusetts

A demonstration held in front of the Brooklyn Museum in New York City saw protesters urge for the NYPD to be removed from local schools and unions, as well as suggested policy changes for public school education

A demonstration held in front of the Brooklyn Museum in New York City saw protesters urge for the NYPD to be removed from local schools and unions, as well as suggested policy changes for public school education

New York City Mayor Bill de Balsio (center, orange face mask) joined a group of community volunteers in Long Island on Friday to paint the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' near the 120th precinct. De Blasio announced Friday that Juneteenth would become an official holiday in the city

New York City Mayor Bill de Balsio (center, orange face mask) joined a group of community volunteers in Long Island on Friday to paint the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ near the 120th precinct. De Blasio announced Friday that Juneteenth would become an official holiday in the city 

Although Juneteenth is legally recognized in 47 states and Washington D.C., thousands of people will celebrate the event for the first time.

‘I didn’t know about it, I didn’t learn about it in school,’ said a Brooklyn resident named Kira. ‘And so I had to educate myself. And I’m black.’

Juneteenth celebrations began after former President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, and it became effective the following Jan. 1.

But it wasn’t enforced in many places until after the Civil War ended in April 1865. Word didn’t reach the last enslaved black people until June 19 of that year, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas.   

It is not regarded as a federal holiday despite recognition at a local and state level.  

Brannon Bridgett, a 23-year-old Manhattan resident, said he’s appreciated of New York officials embracing Juneteenth, but argued it’s not enough. 

‘I think it should be a federal holiday,’ he said. ‘I think it’s symbolic. I think that’s the crumbs, but I want the whole cake. 

‘This country was built on the backs of enslaved people and the country hasn’t reckoned with that.’ 

As protests continue across the country, politicians and businesses alike have acknowledged Juneteenth in a way that it hasn’t been before.

Major companies like Nike, Google, and the National Football League have all declared Juneteenth an employee holiday. 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that Juneteenth would officially become a corporate holiday for employees going forward. So have Netlfix, Lyft and Ben & Jerry’s.

On the morning of June 19, Tesla told employees that they can take the day off in observance of Juneteenth – but it would be unpaid, CNBC reports. 

People carry a empty symbolic casket draped with an American flag during a Juneteenth march and celebration in the Greenwood District - the same city President Trump initially announced a campaign rally before moving the date amid pressure

People carry a empty symbolic casket draped with an American flag during a Juneteenth march and celebration in the Greenwood District – the same city President Trump initially announced a campaign rally before moving the date amid pressure

Mahlikah Awerii (center) and Gary Wassaykeesic (right) take part in an "Abolish the police" sit in to mark Juneteenth in Ontario, Canada, on Friday

Mahlikah Awerii (center) and Gary Wassaykeesic (right) take part in an “Abolish the police” sit in to mark Juneteenth in Ontario, Canada, on Friday

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards NBA team (center) marched to the MLK Memorial in Washington D.C. in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday

Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards NBA team (center) marched to the MLK Memorial in Washington D.C. in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Friday

Although it's not considered a federal holiday, Juneteenth is recognized as such by 47 US states and Washington D.C. Only three other states, including Hawaii, have not designated Juneteenth as a state holiday

Although it’s not considered a federal holiday, Juneteenth is recognized as such by 47 US states and Washington D.C. Only three other states, including Hawaii, have not designated Juneteenth as a state holiday

Brannon Bridgette: 'I think it's symbolic. I think that's the crumbs, but I want the whole cake. 'This country was built on the backs of enslaved people and the country hasn't reckoned with that'

Brannon Bridgette: ‘I think it’s symbolic. I think that’s the crumbs, but I want the whole cake. ‘This country was built on the backs of enslaved people and the country hasn’t reckoned with that’

A number of protesters holding 'Black Lives Matter' signs march near the Mt. Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem ahead of an anticipated march on Saturday, which organizers believe will draw several crwods

A number of protesters holding ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs march near the Mt. Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem ahead of an anticipated march on Saturday, which organizers believe will draw several crwods

Demonstrators in Atlanta, Georgia, march past a mural celebrating African-American lives on Friday as hundreds of residents commemorated Juneteenth

Demonstrators in Atlanta, Georgia, march past a mural celebrating African-American lives on Friday as hundreds of residents commemorated Juneteenth 

Pictured: an American flag held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. has the names of several African-Americans who died by police brutality, including George Floyd and Michael Brown, with the words 'We're Not Free' written in black ink

Pictured: an American flag held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. has the names of several African-Americans who died by police brutality, including George Floyd and Michael Brown, with the words ‘We’re Not Free’ written in black ink

Demonstrators hold signs as they take part in a Juneteenth march and rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, (pictured)

Demonstrators hold signs as they take part in a Juneteenth march and rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, (pictured) 

Two current employees said the move was offensive that Tesla did not make the announcement before Juneteenth.

Many employees had already arrived for their shift on the west coast when the email arrived late morning on the east coast. 

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Juneteenth celebrations almost collided with a campaign rally for President Trump.

Trump announced earlier this month that he would hold his first campaign rally since March in Tulsa on June 19. 

He was met with swift backlash from critics who lambasted him for holding his rally on Juneteenth given his spotty record with racial issues and minorities.

The Trump administration has since moved the rally to June 20, but Trump was once again criticized after claiming to make Juneteenth ‘famous.’

African-Americans in Tulsa gathered along Greenwood Avenue to not only commemorate the abolition of slavery, but celebrate being Black.

‘We’re celebrating the emancipation of slaves, but we’re really celebrating the idea of being black,’  Jacquelyn Simmons, a resident of 45 years, told New York Times. ‘We love it and we love us.’

The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was painted across Greenwood Avenue in bright yellow letters.

They said their Juneteenth celebration had very little to do with President Trump.

Activist Angela Davis sits in the driver's seat of a car before leading a caravan of protesters at the Port of Oakland to commemorate Juneteenth on Friday

Activist Angela Davis sits in the driver’s seat of a car before leading a caravan of protesters at the Port of Oakland to commemorate Juneteenth on Friday

One woman attending a Black Lives Matter march in New York City brought a cardboard sign with art depicting Breonna Taylor and and seven-year-old Aiyanna Jones, both of whom died during interactions with police officers (pictured)

One woman attending a Black Lives Matter march in New York City brought a cardboard sign with art depicting Breonna Taylor and and seven-year-old Aiyanna Jones, both of whom died during interactions with police officers (pictured)

Mahlikah Awe:ri (pictured) appears to hold a drum  while attending the Abolish the Police sit in rally to celebrate Juneteenth in Ontario, Canada

Mahlikah Awe:ri (pictured) appears to hold a drum  while attending the Abolish the Police sit in rally to celebrate Juneteenth in Ontario, Canada

Rebecca Jimerson sings during the ceremony of the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth at historic Ashton Villa, where emancipation of the slaves was announced in 1865 (pictured)

Rebecca Jimerson sings during the ceremony of the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth at historic Ashton Villa, where emancipation of the slaves was announced in 1865 (pictured)

‘It’s not really about his rally for us, said 51-year-old Otis Collins, who drove four hours to Tulsa from Dallas, Texas. 

‘We want to show defiance to his act, but he’s going to have his rally and do his thing regardless. This is about showing our people support.’

The White House released a message on Friday discussing Juneteenth.

‘Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation. It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our Nation’s unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness,’ wrote Trump. 

‘This Juneteenth, we commit, as one Nation, to live true to our highest ideals and to build always toward a freer, stronger country that values the dignity and boundless potential of all Americans,’ he added. 

But Trump will most likely spend the holiday inside the White House as crowds of protesters flock to the area for Juneteenth rallies and demonstrations. 

Activists called for walk outs, street blockades and dance parties to shut down parts of the city. The marchers are expected to be near the White House and the National Mall.

Dennis Doster, who for the past five years has co-chaired the longest-running Juneteenth event in Prince George County, Maryland, was shocked by the turnout.

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother Forrest Jackson, right, and Rodrick Tyler prepare bags of cleaning products to distribute during a drive-thru Juneteenth 2020 celebration in Dallas, Texas

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother Forrest Jackson, right, and Rodrick Tyler prepare bags of cleaning products to distribute during a drive-thru Juneteenth 2020 celebration in Dallas, Texas

‘It’s like, ‘finally’. In the past few weeks, it’s been like everyone has been wanting to do something for Juneteenth,’ Doster told The Washington Post. 

St. George was the largest slave-owning county in Maryland. 

Last year, the annual event attracted more than 6,000 people to enjoy live music, food trucks, dance performances and reflections on history. 

This year, restrictions on public gatherings have pushed the event online.

 ‘It’s not only about celebrating the past, but looking at the future and charting the path forward.’  

The 155th anniversary of Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, – where Juneteenth was first created – saw crowds attend a ceremony at the historic Ashton Villa, where Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger announced that the last enslaves African-Americans were free.

‘We’re trying to preserve the history of the Emancipation Proclamation and what Juneteenth really meant,’  Juneteenth coordinator Douglas Matthews told Spectrum News.

President Trump: 'his Juneteenth, we commit, as one Nation, to live true to our highest ideals and to build always toward a freer, stronger country that values the dignity and boundless potential of all Americans'

President Trump: ‘his Juneteenth, we commit, as one Nation, to live true to our highest ideals and to build always toward a freer, stronger country that values the dignity and boundless potential of all Americans’

In 1979, Texas became the first US state to officially mark Juneteenth a holiday by by former Texas state lawmaker Al Edwards.

‘This is where it happened that African-Americans received their freedom in the South, delivered by the word of the U.S. government,’ Edwards said at the time.

‘It’s not to be taken away from us. It’s not to be muzzled or silenced or marginalized. It is Freedom Day for African-Americans in the United States. It is our day. White, Black, Asian, Mexican-American — it is a United States holiday.’ 

Juneteenth demonstrations and celebrations were also held in places like Montgomery, Alabama, Atlanta, Geogria and even Toronto, Canada.  

A group of demonstrators hold a sign reading 'Freedom Day March' as they make their way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. on Juneteenth

A group of demonstrators hold a sign reading ‘Freedom Day March’ as they make their way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. on Juneteenth 

Residents in St. Louis, Missouri, gathered near The Gateway Arch on Juneteenth as they chanted and carried 'Black Lives Matter' signs through the city

Residents in St. Louis, Missouri, gathered near The Gateway Arch on Juneteenth as they chanted and carried ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs through the city 

A photo taken at a Juneteeth Black Lives Matter demonstration in Atlanta, Georgia, shows the full scope of attendees as they overtake the roadway while hoisting protests signs in the air

A photo taken at a Juneteeth Black Lives Matter demonstration in Atlanta, Georgia, shows the full scope of attendees as they overtake the roadway while hoisting protests signs in the air 

In Tennessee, Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation Friday to recognize Juneteenth Day. 

The move came a week after Republican lawmakers voted to keep in place a day commemorating Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest but remove the governor´s responsibility to sign the annual proclamation for it. Lee had proposed eliminating the day but said lawmakers made a step in the right direction.

The protests have also already started to yield concrete results. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a broad police accountability bill that bans chokeholds, requires police body cameras and removes legal barriers that protect officers from lawsuits. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called on the Legislature to ban chokeholds and make other reforms. Both are Democrats.

Events marking Juneteenth were expected to be held in every major American city on Friday, although some were being held virtually due to the coronavirus.

In Louisiana, community and environmental groups won a court fight to hold a Juneteenth ceremony at a site archaeologists have described as probably a cemetery for enslaved African Americans. The land is now being used to build a $9.4 billion chemical complex.

Malik Harris (center) leads protesters as they march towards the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. on Friday as part of a Juneteenth celebration

Malik Harris (center) leads protesters as they march towards the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. on Friday as part of a Juneteenth celebration 

Philadelphia´s biggest Juneteenth parade and festival was canceled because of the virus outbreak, but several other celebrations popped up, including a gathering of roughly 200 people, mostly black men dressed in black T-shirts, who marched to a park.

Thousands of people gathered at an organized religious rally in downtown Atlanta, where speakers and attendees called for an end to racism.

In Boston, planned events included a rally organized by Black Lives Matter to call for an end to ‘mass incarceration and over-policing’ of communities of color, and a labor union-organized automobile caravan as part of the nationwide Drive to Justice campaign, which seeks changes in policing and other measures. 

In St. Petersburg, Florida, city officials and community members celebrated with the unveiling of a block-long, colorful mural that said ‘Black Lives Matter.’

‘We know our lives matter. You don´t have to tell us that. We´re trying to tell the world that,’ said Plum Howlett, a tattoo artist who painted part of the mural. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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