Americans on Friday of June 19, 2020, commemorated the abolition of slavery with peaceful rallies, marches, and parties celebrating blackness. The Juneteenth celebrations took place following the sudden spark of nationwide protests demanding justice for the death of George Floyd, a black man who was choked to death by a police officer.
Juneteenth, a word combining the words "June" and "19th," is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in Confederate territory when Union army major general Gordon Granger readout Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proclamation in Galveston, Texas two years after the proclamation had been signed. Slavery was outlawed nationwide a few months later when the 13th amendment was ratified.
Although Juneteenth is not a federal holiday yet, June 19 is considered the true independence day for the black community. Juneteenth is also known as freedom day, black independence day, and emancipation day.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Juneteenth celebrations were combined with a homage to Floyd in an early morning five-mile route for runners, walkers, and cyclists which ended at the site where Floyd was killed.
In Atlanta, protestors gathered in front of the Georgia Bar Association and marched to demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old unarmed black man who was shot dead by a white father and son white another white man assisted in cornering Ahmaud and recorded the murder.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where President Trump initially planned a campaign rally but rescheduled after learning about the significance of the Juneteenth holiday, Rev Al Sharpton, a veteran civil rights activist and Baptist preacher delivered a speech.
"Juneteenth is both a celebration and a reminder, a commemoration," Sharpton preached. "It reminds us that it took almost three years after the signing of the emancipation proclamation for people in Texas to even know that slavery was over."
In New York City, the mayor Bill de Blasio, announced that from next year Juneteenth would be an official city and school holiday.
Senate Democrats including former presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, introduced legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday. However, it is expected to face opposition from Republicans who currently dominate the Senate.