NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of protesters fighting against police brutality took to the streets of the city in the 23rd straight day of demonstrations, but Friday’s marches had even more meaning.
“The end of slavery happened when? In the 1800s, but we’re still out here in 2020. There’s a lot of work to do,” protester Tru Williams told CBS2’s Cory James. “So we’re out in these streets until we actually get justice, until people actually have freedom, and freedom is not having our necks stepped on, alright? It’s not getting killed by police.”
On the 23rd night of protests, a different type of gathering took place in Brooklyn.
It was a celebration for a historic day, a day known as Juneteenth.
Thousands sat in the grass at McCarren Park and learned about the official commemoration of the end of slavery back in 1865 on June 19.
Eleven-year-old Roman knows about it well.
“I know that in like 1865 or something the slaves were liberated,” he said.
But for those older, the event gave them a refresher course.
“I learned about it in school,” Lauren Decunto said. “However this year I understood really what it really means. It means that the whole country became free.”
Organizers and elected officials believe educating everyone on all history is crucial for our country’s growth.
“Racism is built and hard-wired in the DNA in the American experience,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said.
“So it’s definitely important for them to know where they’re coming from in order to get where they are going,” one woman said.
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Meanwhile, people continued going with the fight for change.
Chopper 2 caught a large group of protesters walking over the Brooklyn Bridge earlier in the day.
On the ground, their voices were just as powerful as the size of their Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s really inspiring to see people still coming out from their homes,” protester Lily Megale said.
But the significance of the day did not go missed during the rallies.
On the west side of Manhattan, the Black Liberation Flag was front and center with marchers in Chelsea. People were watching from their balconies and the street.
“It makes me feel great. I mean finally they are doing it. Finally they’re doing this, they’re respecting us Black people,” Deshaun Robinson said.
Protests that many hope will lead to a better future for generations to come.
A future Roman and his friend Jasper say looks bright just from the turnout on Juneteenth.
“I think it’s good that people are celebrating it,” Jasper said.
“I think it’s a good sign that we’re coming together and saying we need to stop Black, um, Black oppression,” Roman said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made Juneteenth a state holiday on Wednesday.
Right now, lawmakers on both sides are pushing for it to become a federal holiday, which they hope will be honored next year.