A Juneteenth rally and march took place on June 19 in Key West, where several hundred people marched through Old Town to honor the end of slavery and call for peace and progress. PHOTOS BY LARRY BLACKBURN/Key Weekly

On June 19, 1865, enslaved people  in Galveston, Texas learned a from federal soldiers that they were free and slavery had ended in the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier had ended slavery and freed slaves — but only in the Union. Federal laws weren’t recognized in the Confederacy. 

The end of the Civil War brought the end of the Confederacy and a nationwide end to slavery.

The celebration of its end has been recognized as Juneteenth since 1865, and Key West hosted a rally and march that started at the African Cemetery on Higgs Beach and then marched through Old Town and down Duval Street, the multi-racial crowd growing larger with each block. 

This year’s event also included a call for progress, an end to police violence against people of color and pleas for progress. 

“White people, don’t take opportunities from us; help us,” emcee M.J. shouted into a microphone. “And black people, we need to be accountable, too. We need to work hard for ourselves. We need to show up on time. We need to educate ourselves.”

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