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.”