Thousands gathered on Friday in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District to commemorate Juneteenth.
Juneteenth represents June 19, 1865 when enslaved people learned they were finally free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Organizers of the event said the goal, despite the pandemic, is to educate and empower.
The event will feature live performances and speakers, including the Reverend Al Sharpton, starting at 6 p.m.
On what he wants people to take away from Tulsa's Juneteenth commemoration, Sharpton said, "I want them to take away the memory. People kept fighting, abolitionists black and white just like black and white are marching now. Imagine you still being enslaved two and a half years after you knew the proclamation was signed. But they didn't give up. Why didn't they give up? Because they hoped and held on that we would have a better day. And we come to make sure we have that day."
Many families are here to learn about black history and celebrate the culture, participating in activities for all ages that started at 11 a.m. Friday morning. Different organizations are present with information on how to register to vote, fill out the census, and get tested for COVID-19. There are also safety measures in place, such as hand washing stations, hand sanitizer dispensers, and volunteers handing out free masks.
Local volunteer Laura Bellis said, “It felt really important for the community to come together and be able to put on something that people can really commemorate, celebrate and do so again in as safe a way as possible to create a positive space for our city, especially right now."