BOSTON — One hundred and fifty-five years ago the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word of their freedom. It was more than two years after president Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation.
The day is now known as Juneteenth and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey has joined a group of lawmakers pushing to make it a federal holiday.
There's also a push in Massachusetts to make it a state holiday.
Rallies took place across the country including one in Dorchester.
“I’m out here because there is strength in numbers,” said Micheline Doughlin of Codman Square.
Protesters like Darius Anderson say their strength in numbers was a source of power.
“To see everyone here together saying the same consciousness, saying that black people are free, it is just liberating and it is actually very beautiful,” said Anderson.
But on this Juneteenth, their protest looked a little different than usual.
“We want to have a different type of protest,” said Brock Satter of Mass Action Against Police Brutality. “You know we’ve been marching the streets pretty hard every day for the last couple weeks.”
They instead protested through a mass gathering, a celebration full of free food, water, music, dancing, poetry and art.
"It's a time with the mass movement that emerged after the murder of George Floyd, so it takes on a whole new meaning," said Satter. "We have done this event before just like we have done these press conferences in front of the DA before, the only difference is now more people are listening and more people are turning out."
Organizers say this event was originally canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic but hundreds and hundreds of people came out because of the other pandemic of civil unrest and social injustice.
“Lincoln did say we were free but we weren’t really free because we didn’t know, it was up to our slave master us to let us know but they didn’t let us know they kept us enslaved,” said Doughlin. “They did everything and their power to keep us bonded when we were free but we were free.”
Their goal now is to continue the fight and use their voices to stop injustice anywhere.
“We are still fighting that fight and working toward being free and all aspects of life police brutality healthcare education justice equality,” said Doughlin.
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