More Protesters March from Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial; Celebrating Juneteenth

While celebrating the freedom of enslaved people in the South, protesters said more change must come for people of color.

DULUTH, Minn.- On the day known as Juneteenth, crowds gathered at the Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial on East First Street to march to City Hall — protesting the oppression Black, Indigenous and People of Color still feel over a century later.

“Juneteenth to us isn’t just a celebration. It’s a beacon of hope for change,” said Northland March host Garett Kennedy.

At the memorial for three black men beaten and hanged by a crowd of thousands in 1920, a crowd of hundreds gathers Friday to fight for the fair and equal treatment of people of color.

“I was hoping for a 500 count but as it stands right now we’re looking to go way over that,” Kennedy said. “And if we do, it shows that there’s humanity, the world can be good. And all it takes is standing up and getting that to happen.”

“‘Cause we can’t forget that we were enslaved and we are oppressed,” said protester Erik Bell.

June 19th, 1865 is the day the last enslaved Africans of the south in Texas were officially free — two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“That’s a footprint,” said protester Djuana Carter, “I can say no more than that, ’cause, like, we’re still going through it.”

Carter is one of many at the protest who feel that the freedom celebrated on this day hasn’t meant equality for people of color. “It’s called a halfway point, we’re at a halfway point.”

“We’re not there already, we’re not close, but we’re halfway,” she said.

The rally is just one of the countless demonstrations happening across the country on Juneteenth; a continuation of the public outcry spurred after George Floyd was killed under the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Along with Floyd, the names of other black lives lost were displayed on banners under the gaze of the statues of Clayton, Jackson and McGhie.

“I think that the idea of freedom and liberty in this country is, it does exist but I don’t think it exists for everybody,” Bell said.

After meeting at the Memorial, the throngs of people headed towards City Hall. Chants like “White Supremacy: End it Now! Police Brutality: End it Now!” boomed down First Street.

“For us to come here and commemorate our freedom is a reminder to others that haven’t felt a lack of freedom that it’s a fight,” he said.

“It’s always been a fight, and we’re still fighting.”

Bell brought his daughter with him to City Hall, among the many children present. “Having my daughter here, although she may not completely understand, y’know this is something that I can share with here when she’s older.”

He, along with organizers, said it’s important to show the next generation how long it’s taken for change to come, and how much more is needed.

“It’s our fight to continue today,” Kennedy said. “We should be seeing this stuff already. So it’s about time the community stood up and said we need change.”

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