In just about any other year, Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage, would be marked by African American families across the nation with a cookout, a parade, a community festival, a soulful rendition of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”
But in 2020, as the coronavirus ravishes black America disproportionately, as economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic strains black pocketbooks, and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth is a day of protest.
And like the nationwide protests that followed the police involved deaths of black men and women in Minnesota, Kentucky and Georgia, Juneteenth celebrations are likely to be remarkably more multiracial.
“I think this year is going to be exciting to make white people celebrate with us that we’re free,” said 35-year-old Army veteran David J. Hamilton III, who has organized a Juneteenth march and protest through a predominantly black, Hispanic and immigrant neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Hamilton, who is black, said this year is his first treating “Juneteenth with the same fanfare as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day.”