Thousands mark Juneteenth with call for equality during rally at Port of Oakland


Thousands of people rallied at the Port of Oakland before marching into the city Friday to commemorate Juneteenth and call for racial justice.

The sizable crowd included numerous dockworkers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which organized a work stoppage in Oakland and 28 other West Coast ports to observe the day.

Juneteenth — which marks the anniversary of the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas found out about their freedom 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued — “has long been recognized by the African American community,” ILWU International President Willie Adams said in a statement.


In Los Angeles, the end of slavery was often marked on New Year’s Day, before new arrivals from Texas brought the tradition of a Juneteenth party.

June 18, 2020

“But, for many others, it was unknown until now — as our nation, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, refocuses on ways to address ongoing, systemic racial injustice,” Adams said. “Thousands of dockworkers will stop work for the first shift on June 19, 2020, to show their commitment to the cause of racial equality and social justice.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck down with his knee for nearly eight minutes. His death has sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism nationwide and around the world.

The protests have mobilized many non-blacks who hadn’t yet been involved in racial justice causes. Black protesters say it’s a sign of the movement’s impact.

June 7, 2020

“There’s no question that we stand behind the Black Lives Matter movement,” Port of Oakland Board President Ces Butner said in a statement. “We want this country to live up to what it’s supposed to be.”

After rallying at the port Friday, demonstrators marched into downtown Oakland.

Similar events are scheduled throughout the San Francisco Bay Area to mark Juneteenth.