It was a day of marches, music and community as thousands of Brooklynites took to the streets to celebrate Juneteenth with events across the borough.
While Juneteenth events are a tradition in Brooklyn, this year it took on special significance as protests in support of Black Lives Matter coincided with the annual commemoration of the day when news of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
Peaceful marchers flooded major thoroughfares leading to Downtown Brooklyn Friday, holding signs aloft and chanting “No justice, no peace” as cars honked support and onlookers cheered from windows.
Protesters who headed to Cadman Plaza Park were greeted with a new sign declaring the green space at the entrance “Juneteenth Grove” with benches freshly painted in red, green and black. After organizers rallied the crowd of thousands with messages of unity, inclusion and justice they headed out to march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
As they continued to the bridge another group was proceeding on Court Street for a rally at Borough Hall. There the young organizers asked for a minute of silence before rallying the crowd with calls for justice and the continuation of the protests throughout the weekend.
While musicians and poets gathered for a “Juneteenth Jam” at the plaza at 300 Ashland, another large crowd of protestors marched past on Flatbush.
In Bed Stuy, a celebratory atmosphere reigned as music drifted out from Restoration Plaza and bikers gathered for an evening protest ride. Children and new graduates in their caps and gowns posed in front of the newly painted Black Lives Matter mural along Fulton Street as more onlookers captured views.
While Juneteenth is not yet a state holiday, Governor Cuomo recently announced plans to make it official next year, and all the peaceful protests, celebrations and vigils springing up on short notice created a holiday feel in Brooklyn.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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