Black Lives Matter protests take up tone of celebration for Juneteenth
Protesters struck a different tone Friday as they demonstrated against racism and police brutality on Juneteenth.
More than a dozen rallies were held across Long Island Friday -- stretching from Valley Stream to Southampton.
Demonstrators were dancing in the streets of Freeport - a short break in the middle of their march that went through the streets for hours. The message has remained the same for over three weeks -- Black Lives Matter.
But on the day that commemorates when slaves in Texas learned they were freed, there was a different feeling in the air.
"I feel amazing. I feel so proud to just see banks are closing early, and that businesses are acknowledging us," says Janet Blake, a real estate broker in Freeport. "It's just great to see after all the pain and heartache and suffering that now we are finally getting the acknowledgment that we waited so long for."
Another protester says after weeks of demonstrations and work, they feel like they're starting to make major changes.
"I feel like we need to be heard ... it makes me feel like we're something. Like we matter," says one protester.
The group made its way to Bishop White Memorial Park, where they planned to gather some food, listen to speakers and celebrate.
The Long Island Unity March made its way from Amityville High School to Cedar Creek Park in Massapequa. Hundreds took to Merrick Road to continue spreading the message that Black Lives Matter.
Behind the march was 16-year-old Ariana Levin.
"I feel like there's more pride in the Black community and our allies," says Levin. "People are really rising up and taking a stand."