HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Several community advocates in Huntsville gathered together today to celebrate the end of slavery. Nationwide calls for social justice have given more attention to this annual celebration commonly known as Juneteenth.
A caravan was set to ride through the streets of Huntsville in both a peaceful demonstration to celebrate the abolition of slavery and a call for an end to racism.
“Today is Juneteenth,” said 103.1 WEUP Radio Host Joski Love.
Love organized Friday’s Drive to Justice in Huntsville. He said, “A lot of people are angry. A lot of people are upset. There’s a lot of emotions running and we need to talk.”
Huntsville City Police escorted the protestors to Club 3208. Friday’s mobile protest is a kind of Independence Day celebration — stems going all the way back to 1619, the year historians said African people were first enslaved and brought to America’s shoreline. Hundreds of years of captivity followed, and when America proclaimed its independence from England in 1776,
Blacks were not celebrating.
“We still were slaves,” said attendee Toya Piper. “We were still waiting for our Independence.”
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery in 1863, but it took two years before the last of enslaved African Americans in Texas were notified of their freedom — on June 19, 1865. That’s where we get the name Juneteenth.
“It’s crazy,” said Love. “One hundred fifty-five years later we’re still dealing with injustice.”
The annual celebration is getting a lot of attention, especially with the recent movements concerning the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police.
“Only thing on my heart is how much Black lives matter and how much we really want everyone to know that we’re not out here causing havoc,” said Piper. “We’re business owners. We are professional people all around the board.”
Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery, but it also symbolizes that the fight for racial justice is still going.
The WEUP radio station, the NAACP, Huntsville City Police and other community advocates were part of today’s Drive to Justice.