Thousands commemorate Juneteenth Freedom Celebration with music, food and festivities in SF

The Fillmore District brought together a vibrant community: "It's a mixture of cultures. Everyone together."

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Thousands Commemorate Juneteenth Freedom Celebration in SF
Organizers say about 20,000 people packed the Fillmore District in San Francisco for the city's annual Juneteenth celebration.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Juneteenth is officially recognized on Wednesday, June 19.

The holiday marks 159 years since union troops arrived in Texas and announced that enslaved Black people they were free.

On Saturday, organizers say about 20,000 people packed the Fillmore District in San Francisco for the city's annual celebration.

The Fillmore District in San Francisco brought together a vibrant community to mark Juneteenth with music, food, and festivities. It's eight blocks of celebrations.

"It's a combination of bringing youth, seniors, it's a mixture of cultures. Everyone together," said Jerome Leonard of Hercules.

"We've been celebrating it here for over 80 years--only second to Galveston, Texas,' said Pia Harris, one of the organizers and program director of economic development with the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation.

Juneteenth marks a monumental day in U.S. history.

"We celebrate resilience; We celebrate freedom; We celebrate how far we've come," said SF Police Chief Bill Scott.

MORE: Juneteenth parade in San Francisco celebrates freedom, love and unity in heart of downtown

Crowds lined the streets for the second annual Juneteenth parade in downtown San Francisco.

"It is considered Freedom Day because it was when African Americans in Texas, two years after the emancipation of proclamation was signed received notification that they are indeed free," said Mayor London Breed.

Juneteenth is also a homecoming of sorts for many people in San Francisco's Black community.

Many come to celebrate the holiday in the Fillmore District, a historically African American neighborhood once deemed the "Harlem of the West."

"Our parents all tell the story of how there were hundreds of Black businesses in the Fillmore, music on every corner-- blues clubs that were African American-owned that all happened before redevelopment," said Harris.

Photographs at the heritage center spotlight how the Fillmore was epicenter of Black entertainment, music, and culture through the early 70s.

"You look at Louis Armstrong, you know. These are icons," said Chief William Scott of San Francisco Police Department.

VIDEO: How people came to celebrate Juneteenth in the United States

Learn more about the history of Juneteenth and what it represents for the descendants of enslaved people and others in the United States.

Remembering the Fillmore's rich culture and heritage, marking Juneteenth freedom celebrations---they go hand in hand.

"This community was the core of the African American community for so many years and it's just great to bring this event to this community," said Chief Scott.

For the future generations, it's a reminder.

"It is important to make sure that we understand the significance of Black people and how Black people not only built this city but built this country and we're an important part of American history," said Mayor Breed.

"It's important to celebrate and show people that we are here and celebrate this national holiday," said Harris.

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