Juneteenth in the Bay Area: We asked people why they marched in Oakland, San Francisco

ByLyanne Melendez and Eric Thomas KGO logo
Saturday, June 20, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Several events commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States took place through the Bay Area on Friday.

ABC7 News reporters Lyanne Melendez went to a rally at San Francisco City Hall and Eric Thomas went to a rally at the Port of Oakland to ask those present why they were there this Juneteenth amid nationwide protests over systemic racism and police brutality.

VIDEO: We talked to people who went to Juneteenth rally at Port of Oakland

Several Juneteenth events commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States took place through the Bay Area on Friday, including one at the Port of Oakland.

Watch the videos below to hear some of their responses:

Lyanne asked Gee, one of the people attending the rally at San Francisco City Hall, what he thought about the crowds. "This means the world to me to see the whole world stopping and paying attention to my life, my kids' lives, and my parents' life that came before me."

He continued, "I never thought that I would see this day where everybody is paying attention and everybody is changing the things that we've been complaining about. And we've never seen anything like this happen so rapidly. So I'm just very emotional and I'm very happy and I hope it continues and I hope that it resonates."

Another man, who identified himself as James, said, "I'm just here to lend my support, lend my voice to Juneteenth and to the black community in San Francisco and the Bay Area, nationally. Just to show my support as an ally, as a white ally, and the overall struggle for justice and police reform."

Tonette Johnson said, "This event today is really important just because Black Lives Matter and it's a beautiful thing that we are celebrating today on Juneteenth, where our freedom starts. I am a strong believer on if we don't fight now, we won't ever get our freedom ever again."

Eric came across a Haiti native at the Port of Oakland. Here's what she said about the tie-in between the demonstration and the Juneteenth holiday: "When after the proclamation of the end of slavery, the slaves did not know that they were free until Juneteeth."

For full coverage on the Juneteenth holiday, visit this page.

VIDEO: What is Juneteenth?

Here's a look at the history behind Juneteenth and the significance of the holiday today.