DEL PASO HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — Juneteenth is Friday and a variety of celebrations are planned through the weekend.
But on Thursday, dozens went from Grant High School through the streets of Del Paso Heights. They represented Build.Black., Brother to Brother and the Black Child Legacy Campaign led by Dr. Ijeoma Ononuju, known to most as “Doctor O.”
“Reinvesting in our community, stopping the violence and reimagining justice in the Del Paso Heights community,” Dr. Ononuju explained. “When we’re talking about reimagining justice we’re talking about looking at where the dollars are going and where there being spent on our police department and seeing if there’s a way for us to take some of the funding from our police and reinvest in community-based work.”
Ending at Hagginwood Park, the rally marked an early start to Juneteenth celebrations.
June 19 marks the date the Union Army announced to enslaved people in Texas, one of the last bastions of Confederate slavery, they were free. However, it came nearly two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation technically freed enslaved people in states currently rebelling against the Union and nearly six months before the 13th Amendment to the Constitution freed all remaining enslaved people.
Juneteenth is widely celebrated as the end of slavery and the freedom, liberation and independence day for African Americans.
“We’ve been through a lot of injustices and a lot of wrong,” said 12th grader Julius Horton. “I want to help make things right.”
Horton, a participant in the Black Child Legacy Campaign, admitted the death of George Floyd and the upheaval and violence of the following weeks has weighed on him. But he said he feels confident in his role in the healing.
”Being a part of it, being a facilitator, spreading the work, spreading the message black lives matter,” Horton said.