© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vehicles pass during the Juneteenth Parade in Galveston, Texas, US on June 18, 2022. REUTERS/Evan Garcia

Written by Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – The people of the United States celebrated June 10 this weekend with trumpets, marching drums, speeches and some political rallies, a memorial to commemorate the end of legal slavery for black Americans.

The events began Friday and continued through Sunday with concerts in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Marches for Freedom in Galveston, Texas and jazz in Harlem, New York.

“This is an America vacation, not just a vacation for African Americans,” said Gerald Greggs, president of the Georgia civil rights organization NAACP. “It’s true Independence Day, the day all Americans were liberated.”

June 19, or June 19, marks the day in 1865 that a union general informs a group of enslaved Texas that they are free. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863 during the Civil War, but failed to do so until Union forces wrested areas from Confederate control.

In 2021, President Joe Biden made June 16 a state-recognized holiday, recognized by most states and many businesses and holding celebrations.

In Friday’s announcement, Biden mentioned the killing of 10 people in a racist mass shooting on May 14 in Buffalo, New York.

“We must stand together against white supremacy and show that bigotry and hate have no safe haven in America,” the declaration read.

On Sunday, Danbury, Connecticut, celebrant and festival organizer, Jacqueline Elam, said the fact that June 16 has become a federal holiday has raised awareness of an important historical landmark that has been celebrated for years through cookouts, parades and other social events.

“It is very important that this event not be recognized as a history of blacks only, it is part of American history,” Elam told Reuters as one of the artists sang “I’ll Be Nearby” to the audience.

Griggs said June 16 was a sad moment to reflect on the need for voting rights, prison and law enforcement reforms, which many black Americans view as discriminatory.

But he also urged all Americans to “enjoy, enjoy the party.”

Atlanta kicked off Friday with a downtown festival and parades that began at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr gave speeches.

Carolyn Ware, 64, a homemaker, waded through crowds of colorful tents and gang bars in Atlanta to get to a food truck for jerk chicken and a snack of curry.

“I’ll be honest, that’s a lot of fun,” Weir said, “but I’m concerned that young people aren’t thinking enough about what that means.” “I lived here during the civil rights movement, I heard Reverend King here. He would have said we had more work to do.”

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