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Hear From People Who Celebrated Juneteenth Nationwide


Across the country yesterday, people gathered to mark Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Texas heard that they'd been set free two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. For African Americans and others, it's a day to commemorate, reflect and act.

DARRELL TOBIAS: Juneteenth is all about us as a people fighting for reparations and celebrate our freedom and our independence.

SIMON: Darrell Tobias joined a rally calling for reparations in New Orleans on Friday.

TOBIAS: We probably still aren't all the way free and independent. However, we're off to a good start in my opinion.

SIMON: At a gathering in Detroit, Charity Dean, director of the city's Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity department, said Juneteenth is a time to expose how deeply ingrained racism has been in American society.

CHARITY DEAN: This thing that defined our country for generations and never makes the history books. And so part of our response is to continue to celebrate and to continue to educate so that we continue to liberate ourselves.

SIMON: In Birmingham, Ala., Celestine Hood, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, took the microphone at a rally against injustice. She drew a straight line from the civil rights movement of the 20th century to new generations of protesters on the streets this summer.


CELESTINE HOOD: You, young people - you are teargassed. You got rubber bullets. It's the same fight. We cannot give up.

SIMON: Onoyemi Williams was also in the crowd.

ONOYEMI WILLIAMS: This is a celebration of life today. It is a celebration because when you're at war, you must take the time for self-care and celebration. We're celebrating where we're at, so we can prepare for where we have to go.

SIMON: Celebrations and protests continue across the country today.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.