CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer, WBTV) – Around 400 people gathered in First Ward Park in Uptown Charlotte Friday evening to celebrate Juneteenth, the annual holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth commemorates the day when the last slaves in Texas and the Confederate South were freed in 1865 — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The rally, called “Breaking the Chains,” was organized by the NAACP’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg chapter, the ACLU, Sunrise Movement, Kidz Fed Up and Charlotte Reality Project.
The holiday, which is celebrated across the United States, holds special resonance this year as it coincides with the fourth week of protests in Charlotte over police brutality and the death of George Floyd. The signs in the crowd said “Black Lives Matter,” “Defund the Police” and “Arrest the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor.”
Corine Mack, president of Charlotte’s NAACP chapter, called on the crowd to mobilize and hold the city manager, chief of police and City Council accountable.
“We’re asking this not to be a two-day event, a three week event … but to be a life work, so that all children, specifically Black children, don’t have to live in fear of police ever again,” Mack said.