PHOTOS: Juneteenth in Leimert Park — A Celebration of Black Joy During Difficult Times

A caravan celebrating at Leimert Park Rising, an annual Juneteenth Celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

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Yesterday was Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day in 1865 that slaves in Texas finally learned they were free, a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in America. (News traveled slowly back then, thanks in part, to the many slaveholders in Texas who were not pleased with said news.)

Celebrations of the holiday were bigger than ever this year across the country, given the timing of the many Black Lives Matter movement protests for racial justice, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

Juneteenth gatherings happened across the city of Los Angeles, but Leimert Park might have had the biggest of them all.

A poster board lists all the artist who performed at Leimert Park's Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Hundreds congregated in Leimert Park Village to sing, dance, and hold space for one another other. Vendors set up stands along the sidewalks, selling art, snacks and clothing, black-owned food trucks served a hungry community, and DJs and musicians kept the crowd on its feet.

By many accounts, this was the largest crowd they'd seen in the 11 years of Leimert Park's annual Juneteenth Celebration.

Timothy Walker wears a sweatshirt that lists names of people who have been killed by the police. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Timothy Walker, who grew up in the neighborhood, described what it felt like to witness such a large celebration: "It's beautiful to see so many Black people together here, especially at a time like this. We needed this."

This event was a celebration of Black pride, but the underlying message was centered on a darker side of American history.

Messages about police brutality from the past several weeks of protests, ignited by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, could be seen all over the festival. The iconography of the Black Lives Matter movement, and images of Floyd, Louisville shooting victim Breonna Taylor, and various others who have been killed by the police were visible in signs, clothes (we even saw some BLM earrings), and altars.

Here's a photographic glimpse of this historic day in L.A.:

An alter set up in Leimert Park to honor Black people who have died recently. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Veteran R&B singer Barbara Morrison performs at the Leimert Park Juneteenth Celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Sidney, a New Yorker who now lives in Los Angeles, was excited to participate in the celebrations this year: "You see us in the news when we're dead, you rarely see us in the news when we're experiencing extreme joy, and like the beauty of being black is real, it's infectious. This in itself is a rebellion." (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Attendees check out some art displayed at the Leimert Part Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A large crowd came out to celebrate Juneteenth. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Attendees groove out during the Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Jamaea Martin and Shane Smith said they'd always felt honored to celebrate Juneteenth because it's such an important holiday for the Black community, and they are happy that other communities are finally recognizing Juneteenth and the oppression that Black people face. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Families came out together to enjoy the festivities. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Hundreds attended the celebration from all over Los Angeles. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Six Sev, a rapper from the Crenshaw District, holds a Crenshaw Blvd. sign before performing at the Leimert Park Rising Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A sign displayed at the Leimert Park Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A man raises a peace symbol in the air during the Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A drum circle during the Leimert Park Juneteenth Celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A woman dances to music from a DJ during Leimert Park's Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Two men dance outside Ride On! in Leimert Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
The iconography of Black Lives Matter was everywhere, from masks and shirts to earrings. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A group of children watch as a caravan in support of Black Lives Matter drives past the Juneteenth Celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Black-owned food trucks were on hand. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
The caravan included a number of classic cars cruising around Leimert Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Brandon Crash who lives in the area says he's happy more people came out to celebrate Juneteenth. This one is much bigger than others and he's glad that people are learning about the history of Juneteenth. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Skysis Parks and Treyvon raise their fists at the Juneteenth celebration in Leimert Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Bruce Lee says he came out to celebrate Juneteenth from Koreatown "to be around my beautiful people." (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Chanel Martin who moved to Los Angeles from Chicago said that it was great to see the community come together in solidarity. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Reign the Artist rides a horse at the Leimert Park Juneteenth Celebration wearing a jacket with the words "The original I can't breathe" with a noose attached to it. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
Images of George Floyd where everywhere, from vendors selling t-shirts to art along the walls. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Vendors of all sorts set up shop along Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A woman holds a Juneteenth shirt while passing Leimert Park's Juneteenth Celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A group of women cheer as they pass the Juneteenth celebration. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
Church pews where used as seating at one of Leimert Park's Juneteenth Celebrations' three stages. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
A caravan drove around Leimert Park during the Juneteenth celebration holding signs in support of Black Lives Matter. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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