BROOKLYN – Happy Juneteenth! June 19 is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in America. This year there are tons of protests, marches, rallies, vigil happening all throughout today to celebrate, show solidarity, and fight for equal rights and treatment of Black people.
Starting next year, Juneteenth will be a holiday in NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
Today, thousands have been gathering at rallies throughout Brooklyn. It all started with a 10 a.m. rally at the Grand Army Plaza, with a special live performance by Papoose.
In the afternoon at 12 p.m., there was a march and celebration outside the Brooklyn Museum, a rally at the Grand Army Plaza, and a march at the Barclays Center. At 1 p.m., a music and talk session took place at Dekalb Avenue and South Oxford, a sustain and healing session at Kaiser Park, a celebration at Prospect Park West, and a bike ride outside the Brooklyn Museum.
At 2 p.m., there was a BBQ and rally at 155 Bay Street, a rally at the Barclays Center, a celebration and march at the Grand Army Plaza, a march at Nostrand Avenue and Farragut, and a public forum at McCarren Park.
At 2:30 p.m., there was a rally at 317 Hoyt Street and a march at Flatbush and Empire. At around 3 p.m., there was a music celebration at 300 Ashland Place. At 3:30 p.m., there was a march at East Parkway and Utica Avenue.
At 4 p.m. there was a vigil at Fort Greene Park, a march and celebration at Irving Square Park, a march and rally at the Grand Army Plaza, and a jam session at Myrtle Avenue and Broadway.
At 4:30 p.m., there was a protest and picnic at Herbert von King Park. At 5 p.m., there was a march in East Brooklyn. At 5:15 p.m., there will be a vigil at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
At 6 p.m., there will be a march at the Grand Army Plaza, a Break the Chains with Love march at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a celebration at the Barclays Center. At 6:15 p.m., there will be a 5k Bike Ride and Run at 1368 Fulton Avenue. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a Black Souls Remembrance at Prospect Park.
Later today, at 7 p.m., there will be an open mic at St. Johns Place and Franklin Avenue and a celebration and learning session at McCarren’s Park. At 7:45 p.m. there will be a #SayHerName vigil at Prospect Park.Jon Batiste, bandleader of “The Late Show with Steven Colbert” and Sing for Hope board member, will also perform on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library in an event celebrating Juneteenth and encouraging voter participation. Batiste will be joined by 18-year-old prodigy jazz pianist Matt Whitaker in the “We Are: A Voter Registration Recital” presented in partnership with Sing for Hope, a nonprofit offering essential hope and healing through the arts everywhere it’s needed most. Batiste and Whitaker will play a dueling set on artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos. The event will encourage voter participation by providing opportunities for voter registration during the performance.
Brooklyn’s own Public Advocate Jumaane Williams had this to say:
“I travel around the city today as we celebrate the American holiday Juneteenth with the knowledge that while this country has seen progress, we are yet to be truly free. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 should have granted people of African descent in the United States rights and privileges that still have yet to be fully realized so we, people of all races in all corners of the world, march together more than 150 years later to fight the system that continues to deny us the freedom, equity and dignity afforded those who are truly free.
“This country is literally built on the bodies of enslaved Africans and its wealth and privilege is born of the sweat of their brows and the blood they shed. From Tulsa to Wall Street the evidence is clear that their purpose was never supposed to be of advancement for them, but sacrificial and supportive to the people who were the real focus of the words ‘We The People.’ There are no longer slave patrols, but there are disparate policing practices and systems that take our lives, whether in homes with a deadly virus or in the street with our face to the concrete and a man’s knee on our necks. These are not comfortable times, they are not supposed to be, because change can be slow and agonizing.
“With the privilege I have as a cisgender straight man who is a citywide leader there is a mandate to act, and I will use the tools available to me to join others in the fight to defeat racism, bigotry, discrimination, and hate. We are not collectively yet totally free from this system of privilege, but like the ancestors, we will celebrate Juneteenth because our freedom – as it was intended – is coming. As a nation seems to be waking up to the importance of this holiday, we will continue to push in an effort to create the transformational changes, the freedoms, promised 150 years ago but not yet received.“We will persevere and we will prevail.”