About 100 people danced and marched through downtown Salt Lake City to commemorate June 19, 2021. (Katie Workman, KSL.com)
SALT LAKE CITY – About 100 people marched through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City to commemorate Juneteenth’s first year as a federally recognized holiday on Saturday.
Participants marched on a multi-block route that began and ended in Washington Square.
A truck drove the procession, fitted with a stereo with popular music and lyrics from activists, who spoke into microphones during periodic stops at traffic lights.
Those in attendance danced the streets, celebrated and chanted “Freedom Day”, “Emancipation Day” and “Black Lives Matter Every Day”, as well as the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice – who were all killed by the police and have become symbols in the protests against police brutality.
Passing cars often honked in support, and protesters cheered, creating a happy cacophony between the two.
Free posters, water bottles, popsicles, donuts, Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes were all handed out during the walk.
Many participants wore Black Lives Matter shirts or clothing commemorating black history. The marchers also carried posters and placards referring to the emancipation of slaves or the need for more justice.
Others dressed in rainbow pride merchandise or the red, green and black of the Pan-african flag, which symbolizes the African diaspora and the liberation of blacks in the United States.
In the midst of a record-breaking week of heat, the truck leading the march stood with the organizers in its bed squirting water into the crowd – and passed several multi-colored plastic jets of water at people. present. Volunteers also distributed water bottles and encouraged walkers to drink.
Many children drove the crowds on scooters and sprayed each other with water jets, frequently returning to the truck to refuel.
– Katie Workman (@KSL_Katie) June 19, 2021
“This event aims to showcase, support, empower and unify the black and brown community,” said Natasha, a speaker at the event who declined to give her last name. “The purpose of this event is to celebrate and love each other.”
“It’s the recognition of a failed and taught story,” said Rae Duckworth, another organizer who stood at the front of the march in a tie-dye Black Lives Matter shirt and megaphone, leading chants and dancing. “It is liberation, jubilee, freedom.”
After about an hour’s walk, participants returned to Washington Square, where more than 50 local black and minority-owned businesses had set up sales stalls and food trucks. Many sat in the shade or went to the free water stations. The Utah Black History Museum, which is a mobile museum on a bus, was also present.
Live music and celebration will continue until 9 p.m.
This story will be updated.