NBC Video of protests around the country.
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Walking For Justice

By Frances Brennan

I was wishing all day that I could go to the Juneteenth Celebration earlier. I had to work until 5 pm and it started at 2. When I went, I wasn't sure if I planned to walk afterwards. I ran into some friends there -- Alfred, Mattie and Russell. We had all just lost a very dear friend earlier in the week. Her service was the next day. She was a very treasured friend to all of us and I think we were all feeling kind of physically exhausted already by the experience. I asked them if they were going to march when I saw them. They all said they weren't sure at that time, and neither was I, but I can't say for sure whether they did or not, the crowd was so huge. I couldn't possibly see everyone who was there.

The Williams Park celebration was awesome and there were a lot of people there. There was some incredible live music as well as food, coffee, inspiring speakers, free masks and a hydration station.
As the celebration closed at 7 pm, organizers started preparing everyone for the march that followed; making sure they all had water, making sure they all had masks.

I met a new friend as the march got organized who at first glance looked familiar to me. She and her best friend came out for the entire celebration after their employer, Cognizant, gave them the day off. Many companies and brands including Apple, Twitter and Nike have designated Juneteenth as an official company holiday. I noticed both her and her friend at the march's first stop, near the roundabout.

Once it started, it was a clear that the march was not just young people. It was an array of ages and demographics.

Chants like "Whose Street? Our Streets," "Whose city? Our City," "Say his name - George Floyd," say her name "Breonna Taylor." "When I say Emmet. You say Till," "No Justice. No Peace," and "No Trump. No KKK. No racist USA," sent an audible message around the community as we walked. People stood on the sidewalks watching and cheering us on. One man parked before the roundabout in his truck made a heart symbol with his hands through the open window as we passed by.

I work out almost every day and think I am in good shape - but this march was a test. We walked from Williams Park over to Central then down to 20th St over to 18 Ave S., then up 18 S to MLK (9 St.) N. The march went up to Beach Drive, then back down to City Hall, where it finishes every night.

The next day I shared my experience while riding the downtown looper. "I saw them walking," one man on board said with excitement. "They had a BIG group. A big column of people that took up almost the whole road."
"It makes me happy," he added. It makes me think that this is the time when we will see a change and the rich old guys who are trying to keep everything the same are going to be out of luck."

Watch incredible video of Friday's celebration and Protest March.
Video by Debbie Cook courtesy of JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION AND PROTEST LAUNCH and Facebook.