LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Thousands of people gathered for parades and marches today to mark Juneteenth in Los Angeles County, and multiple organizations gave their employees at least part of the day off on the anniversary of the day the last slaves in the Confederacy were freed.
The 11th annual "Juneteenth Celebration -- A Rally For Black Independence" will run until 7 p.m. in Leimert Park and include live music on three stages, a drum circle and vendors. The festival is hosted by Terrace Martin, Evan Washington, KG Superstar and Demetrius Shipp Jr.
The special honorees are Ben Caldwell, Lauren Halsey, Olympia Auset and Dom Kennedy. Admission is free.
Hundreds of people gathered for a parade in Inglewood, starting near the Forum and traversing View Park, Windsor Hills and the Crenshaw District, passing well-known Black-owned establishments and businesses before ending at Leimert Park.
What organizers dubbed the "Juneteenth as Black Tradition Caravan & March" was held at Martin Luther King Junior and Obama boulevards.
"At large, the growing attention paid to Juneteenth offers our nation a rare opportunity to reflect upon and grapple with the stain left from the ugly and depraved institution of human enslavement," Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told City News Service. "... While Juneteenth represents the end of legalized slavery, the nation was so ill-equipped to envision and build a society in which formerly enslaved people enjoyed equality across the spectrum -- in housing, education, employment, justice and health care -- that the next 150 years have been characterized by one uphill battle after another.
"A struggle led by Black people and their allies to incrementally balance the scales of justice. Here and now, in 2020, we are staring down the disheartening truth that recent protests and unrest of laid bare: that freedom and justice in these United States has always been delayed -- and continues to be delayed -- for the descendants of enslaved people who built its infrastructure and grew its economy for free.''
A Juneteenth Remembrance Ceremony will be held from 3-5 p.m. at Library Park in El Segundo. Meanwhile, a special Juneteenth forum will be held outside The Laugh Factory from 3-7 p.m. "to celebrate, protest and learn from community leaders and star-studded comedians such as Tiffany Haddish," organizers said.
USC conducted a virtual Intercampus Juneteenth Celebration on Zoom, with shared life experiences, music and dance while remembering the lives lost this year, uplifting the collective movement for civil rights and honoring the cultural contributions of Black America.
West Hollywood will present a virtual panel discussion about racial injustice at 5 p.m. The panelists will include the actor-comedian Sinbad, political strategist Jasmyne Cannick, and Marquita Thomas, executive director of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The moderator will be Barbara Arnwine, the president and founder of Transformative Justice Coalition.
The forum can be viewed on the city's website, weho.org/wehotv, the city's YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/wehotv; on streaming services such as AndroidTV, AppleTV, FireTV, and Roku; on Spectrum Channel 10 in West Hollywood and AT&T U-verse Channel 99 throughout Southern California.
International Longshore & Warehouse Union dockworkers at the Port of Los Angeles and 28 other West Coast ports stopped work for eight hours in observance of Juneteenth.
Chase closed its branches at 1 p.m. local time nationwide in observance of Juneteenth.
"Closing the branches enables many of our colleagues to join in the celebration and reflect on not only America's achievements, but also its enduring effort to acknowledge its flaws and become a better nation," JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon wrote in an message sent to U.S. employees Wednesday.
Hourly U.S. employees scheduled to work on Friday afternoon will be paid for a full day. Hourly employees in core functions who must come in will be paid for an additional four hours in addition to their regular pay, according to Peter Kelley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. vice president, media relations.
Friday was a paid university holiday at Loyola Marymount University, President Timothy Law Snyder announced Tuesday.
"For our LMU community, I ask that it be a day of reflection and action," Snyder said. "I ask that each of us attends a Black Lives Matter protest, volunteers for a social justice organization, donates to a bail fund, calls our representatives to demand that they support initiatives that seek to end police violence, registers to vote, or expands our understanding through reading or use of other media.
"I ask that on this day we learn about the lasting impacts of slavery, including the lies associated with inferiority and supremacy, and that we pledge to create an organizational culture and institutional climate that honors Black lives."
In a "Campus Update" titled "Juneteenth: A Day for Contemplation," UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily A. Carter, expressed the hope that those affiliated with the university use Friday "as an opportunity to think deeply about the ways in which racism persists and to recommit to the urgent work that we all must do to ensure true liberation."
"Racial justice is a goal that must compel every one of us,'' Block and Carter wrote. "None of us can be all we want to be until all of us can be all we want to be.
"Therefore, on this Juneteenth, we ask every Bruin to ask themselves how they can do more to combat racism in all its forms, to end anti-Black bias especially and to achieve racial equity, inclusion and justice for all. Please be assured UCLA is doing the same.''
June 19 will annually be a company-wide holiday for Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Football Club, which launched a petition Tuesday on Change.org calling for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday. The petition had received more than 9,000 signatures by Friday morning.
Nurses and health care workers at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center in East Hollywood held a "Juneteenth action" to peacefully protest the lack of police accountability and demand justice for local communities and an end to systemic racism.
Juneteenth marks the anniversary of Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger reading General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, which began,"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.''
Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas. It is a paid holiday for state employees in Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania.
In his presidential message on Juneteenth, President Donald Trump said, "Juneteenth reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation. It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our nation's unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness.
"That ability is rooted in the fundamental goodness of America -- in the truths upon which we, as a nation, declared an end to our status as the subjects of a monarch and emerged as a free and independent people -- that all men are created equal by the hand of God, endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
"These words form the heart of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the 'promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.' The celebration of Juneteenth marks an important milestone in the hard-fought journey to make good on that promise for all Americans."