Demonstrators march through Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the United States, June 19, 2020. New Yorkers on Friday marked Juneteenth, the day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, with marches and protests as the country is having a new moment of reckoning about racial injustice. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
NEW YORK, June 19 (Xinhua) -- New Yorkers on Friday marked Juneteenth, the day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, with marches and protests as the country is having a new moment of reckoning about racial injustice.
Thousands of people took to the street on Friday morning, rallying at city landmarks such as City Hall, Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge before marching along major avenues.
Holding self-made 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.
At least 20 protests organized by different groups are expected to take place across five boroughs throughout the day.
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.
At his daily briefing, the mayor said the city would work through a plan to give Juneteenth the "importance and recognition it deserves."
"Every city worker, every student will have an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of our history and the truth," he noted.
He also announced the establishment of a new commission to understand the effects of structural and institutional racism in New York City.
The Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission will be committed to promoting social learning, collective introspection and policy action. It will create a historical record of racial discrimination, with an emphasis on housing, criminal justice, environmental racism and public health, according to the mayor.
"Racism has been a pervasive and consequential force throughout the city's history and we cannot go back to the status quo," said de Blasio. "We must use the past to inform and inspire the present, to promote the dignity and well-being of all New Yorkers, and their full inclusion in the life of our city."
The mayor 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 in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were told the long overdue news that they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The day is recognized in 47 states and Washington D.C., according to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. Enditem