A group of D.C. residents celebrated Juneteenth on Monday by reading the names of the soldiers who helped liberate slaves in Galveston, Texas, in 1865.
The name-reading ceremony took place at the African American Civil War Memorial in northwest Washington.
The event ended with a parade from the memorial to Howard University.
Juneteenth commemorates Union Gen. Gordon Granger informing residents of Galveston on June 19, 1865, that slavery had been declared illegal in the United States two years earlier with the Emancipation Proclamation. He had 2,000 soldiers with him to spread the word about the slaves being free.
“We’re going to raise their name into the universe, never to be forgotten again,” said Frank Smith, founder and director of the memorial and the museum that sponsored the event, WTOP reported. “They were out on these sugar cane plantations. They were out on these private plantations. They were telling people, ‘You’re now free, and now your owners have to pay you to work.’ And they were enforcing this, too, with the barrels of guns.”