Juneteenth, 2020

T.E. ZeriBy T.E. Zeri      July 10, 2020

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Juneteenth, 2020
Monica Salazer and Friend pose w/ Breonna Taylor poster donated by local artists, @Africansniper and @ernestoyerena for attendees to take. Photos by Eleanor Zeri

“Nobody’s Free until Everyone is free” -Fannie Lou Hammer

Juneteenth, June 19, symbolizes the liberation of Black Americans, and is the day for them to reflect on the oppressive systems that still exist. According to Frederick Douglas, June 19th is, “what to the slave is the Fourth of July.”
Painting donated by local artist to NoHo4BLM in support of Juneteenth.
On that day in 1776, the U.S. declared itself an independent and free nation but it did not include freedom for everyone. When the emancipation proclamation came into effect in 1863 (87 years later), it did not instantly free slaves. It took two years for the news of freedom to reach everyone.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to deliver the news that the Civil War was over and slavery was abolished. Juneteenth is the holiday that honors the freedom of 250,000 people across Texas.
Photo by Eleanor Zeri
On June 19, 2020 in NoHo, many people showed up to celebrate. In a park setting, people showed up wearing masks, chairs out, signs up, blankets down, and love in their hearts. Most mingled with people they never knew before. It was a well-organized celebration with dancers, key-note speakers, live music, DJ’d music, free-food, games, arts, selling of black lives matter t-shirts, and more food.

Two organizations put this day together and acquired the funding: The Valley of Change and North Hollywood “4” Black Lives Matter (BLM). One of the NoHo BLM leaders, Cosby Siringi, declared through blaring speakers, “This is not a sprint, this is a marathon…look at all the goodness that has come from this. Choke holds are illegal; racist statues and monuments are being taken down; Ella Jones is the first black mayor in Ferguson: Instead of adding to the budget, Mayor Garcetti took 500 million from; one of the three officers who shot Breonna Taylor was charged. But…there is still so much to do.”
A digital creative in the Entertainment business comes out to celebrate Juneteenth with own t-shirt
An interracial couple, white husband and his black wife, Shayla, separately spoke to the crowd about the future they seek. Shayla declared that love can move us to do a number of things. “Love moves us to be heroic and noble,” she said. It is what brought us here to today to celebrate and stand together for our fallen soldiers who stood for freedom.” She said she sees a world where monuments read, “Victory and justice prevail. Her powerful voice asks if the crowd believes in this world too and, if so, “you have to fight for it; you have to vote for it!”
Unnamed ball dance lip-sinking and dancing for crowd for Beyonce.
Her husband tells the crowd what it’s like to have a black queen and says, “My purpose in all this is to be a light of love and healing, to guarantee the lives of my children…equal opportunity.” He quotes his wife, “Human life is of the utmost importance; it cannot be debated or argued… let this year be a year of clarity of how institutions marginalize, ostracize, trivialize, and economically paralyze our black communities.”

The end of the celebration was nothing if not the most inspirational of the day. Trans-gendered women and gay men delivered speeches of their experiences growing up as black men, as gay men, as trans women. Calypso talked about what it was like to be young a black kid in Hollywood. “I added color to the screen,” as he recounted how agents were openly discriminating.
Gatherers join-in, forming a large dance ensemble
As a transgendered woman, Calypso faced more adversity, yet found community at the “Balls.” In a 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning, filmed by Jennie Levingston, it chronicles the ball culture in New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it during the 1980s ( IMDB). At the balls, groups from each house compete in elaborate balls that take cues from the world of fashion. Speeches were followed by dancing: the crowd erupted and rejoiced, people were screaming.
T.E. Zeri
      July 10, 2020

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