PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several events were held on Friday – both in-person and virtually – to mark Juneteenth, the day celebrating the announcement of the end of slavery.
After gathering at Classical High School, a youth-led group marched to the R.I. State House where they held a sit-in protest and speaking program.
Organizers of the 2nd Annual Juneteenth RI Celebration moved their event online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally planned to be held at Roger Williams Park in Providence.
The celebration featured music and a video talent contest. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo also made virtual appearances.
The group also held an in-person voter registration event.
At 8 p.m. Friday, the Peace Dale Congregational Church in South Kingstown held a nine-minute bell-ringing service to commemorate Juneteenth, as well as call for racial equality and honor the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests and demands for law enforcement reform.
Also known as Freedom Day, June 19 is the day in 1865 that Union soldiers led by Major Gen. Gordon Grander arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared the Civil War was over and slaves were to be freed.
There’s been a nationwide push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Earlier this week, state Rep. Anastasia Williams wrote a letter to Rhode Island’s congressional delegation urging them to sponsor a bill on the matter.