Thousands gather in Chicago, NYC to mark Juneteenth

Thousands of people took to the streets of Chicago and New York City, to mark Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the US.

At Grant Park in downtown Chicago, a number of government officials, including Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Senator Tammy Duckworth, led a march on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The marchers chanted the names of black men and women killed by police officers across the US, and said “too many”.

In Daley Plaza, thousands of people chanted and sang songs.

In New York City, thousands of people on Friday rallied at landmarks such as City Hall, Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge before marching along major avenues.

Holding placards and pictures of George Floyd, whose tragic death sparked nationwide protests nearly a month ago, protesters kept chanting slogans calling for justice and equality while marching on.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that he would make Juneteenth a holiday in the city in 2021.

“Black history is American history. Proud to announce that beginning next year, Juneteenth will be an official city and school holiday,” the Mayor tweeted.

He also announced the establishment of the new Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission to understand the effects of structural and institutional racism in New York City.

The Commission will create a historical record of racial discrimination, with an emphasis on housing, criminal justice, environmental racism and public health, according to the Mayor.

De Blasio also announced the locations for street murals in all five boroughs to commemorate the Black Lives Matter movement, including sections of Manhattan’s Center Street and Brooklyn’s Joralemon Street.

Earlier this week, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees. He said he would advance legislation to make it an official state holiday next year.

Juneteenth commemorates the day of June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, when Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which announced that, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free”.

Currently, Juneteenth is recognized by 46 states and Washington, D.C. as an official state holiday or observance.

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