Won’t ‘let this slide’: Hundreds gather for Juneteenth event
DETROIT (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered in Detroit on Friday to celebrate Juneteenth and call for racial justice in the city and beyond.
“Now we have the attention of the world, and we are not going to let this slide,” said Charity Dean, director of the city’s office of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier.
The day is gaining more attention this year as the coronavirus disproportionately affects Black Americans and the calls for racial justice intensify following the death of George Floyd and other violent encounters with police.
“We didn’t just learn about Juneteenth. Other people just learned about Juneteenth,” Dean said. “We’re here today because this is a Black city, and we are excited to be Black in this city and to make change.”
An event with remarks from Dean, Mayor Mike Duggan and others was held at the Spirit of Detroit statue. Nearby, protesters called for an end to police brutality and racial equality. A mural painted on Woodward Avenue spelled out “Power to the People.”
Volunteers also were registering people to vote and encouraging them to participate in the Census.
In Ann Arbor, hundreds of people sat on Huron Street to bring attention to the death of Floyd whose neck was pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.