Marches and rallies to mark Juneteenth in Massachusetts
By Philip Marcelo, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Rallies, marches and vigils are taking place across Massachusetts on Friday to mark Juneteenth, the traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, which has taken on new gravity this year.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker also issued a proclamation declaring Friday “Juneteenth Independence Day,” and said he wants to work with lawmakers to “recognize this important day more widely going forward.” Legislation was filed earlier this week to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
Labor union groups will lead an automobile caravan from Boston’s Dorchester Municipal Court to a neighborhood playground as part of the nationwide Drive to Justice campaign, which seeks changes in policing and other measures after George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis.
Black Lives Matter organizers then plan to stage an afternoon rally in a Dorchester park to call for an end to “mass incarceration and over-policing” of communities of color. They’re asking attendees to wear green, red or black clothing in a show of support.
That event will be followed a few hours later by a “musical speakout” against police brutality and racism at another Dorchester park. Organizers with Mass Action Against Police Brutality say “ Funk the Police — Juneteenth Edition ” will spotlight families that have lost loved ones to police violence. It will also raise money to send a Boston delegation to the National Mother’s March in Minneapolis on July 12.
Mayor Marty Walsh says the green, red and black Juneteenth flag will also fly over City Hall.
Meanwhile in Lawrence, a predominantly Latino city on the New Hampshire state line, Democratic Mayor Daniel Rivera has closed City Hall and other administrative buildings Friday. He’s also submitting a proposal to the City Council to make Juneteenth an official city holiday.
“We are at a cross road in America where we must acknowledge our true history and the plight of African-Americans in this community and across the country,” Rivera said in a written statement.
Boston’s Juneteeth Committee, the Museum of Fine Arts and other organizations also holding their annual Juneteenth events celebrating black contributions to American art, culture and more, but doing so virtually.
Juneteenth is celebrated every June 19. It marks the day in 1865 when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed slaves they were free. The historic event came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery.
©The Associated Press 2020