Thousands around the country and Atlanta were celebrating Juneteenth Friday, which is a day remembering the liberation of the last enslaved people in the U.S. 155 years ago.
On June 19, 1865, people enslaved in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
People have traditionally commemorated with cookouts and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, but recent unrest — sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police officers — has increased awareness of the holiday and changed the nature of celebrations.
On Friday, Atlanta was the site of rallies, marches and virtual events recognizing the importance of Juneteenth and demanding the end of racial discrimination in the U.S.
The Black Lives Unified Walk departed from The King Center at 2:30 p.m. The walk was set to end at the Centennial Olympic Park.
At Murphy Park, there will be the Inaugural Juneteenth Voter Registration Concert & Rally at 5 p.m. The free event will include live music, food trucks, COVID-19 Testing, and Black-owned vendors.
The March on Atlanta began at Centennial Olympic Park Friday morning. The event “decrying racism in every form” was planned to last until 4 p.m.
Thousands of people gathered at the rally, where speakers and attendees called for an end to racism.
There were also other types of commemorations.
Power Haus Creative is organizing a Juneteeth Takeover of the Outdoor Gallery Exhibition that will feature 19 Black artists in Flatiron City today until 6 p.m.
The Atlanta History Center also made virtual educational resources available for their Juneteenth At Home offerings.
Unexpected Atlanta is hosting a live Juneteenth Virtual Tour that will include trivial and storytelling. The cost of admission is $10 per screen.
In addition, amid longstanding demands to remove symbols and names associated with slavery and oppression, some are coming down. Hundreds gathered Thursday night in Decatur to watch a crane remove a Confederate monument that had stood in the town square since 1908.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.