Thousands took to the streets in Vancouver Friday (June 19) to participate in a Freedom March against racism, as one of the many events in North America celebrating Juneteenth.
Juneteenth began in 1865 in the U.S., celebrating the day that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the south in 1863 but it was not enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War.
This year, for many, the celebration served as more of a protest – coming at a time where citizens on both sides of the border are seeing a reckoning of systemic racism within policing, education and healthcare.
As of Thursday, organizers with the Movement for Black Lives said they had registered more than 275 Juneteenth weekend events across 45 states, through its website.
The Vancouver rally began at Jack Poole Plaza with emotional and courageous speeches, followed by a march to Sunset Beach. Organized by Shamika Mitchell and Nova Stevens, the march came two weeks after thousands gathered in the same area for an anti-Black racism protest.
On Friday, ports along the west coast of B.C. were quite, with International Longshore and Warehouse Union halting work for the better part of the day to support racial equality and social justice.
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