SAN FRANCISO (KTVU/AP) - On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over, and that all remaining slaves in Texas were free -- an event celebrated to this day as "Juneteenth."
A Juneteenth rally drew a crowd Wednesday on the steps of San Francisco City Hall in support of equity for black city and county workers.
People at the rally said they’re taking a stand to condemn racist and discriminatory practices in city departments against black workers.%INLINE%
According to SEIU 1021, black city workers receive disciplinary dismissals at a rate of two and a half times higher than other workers and are paid less.
"Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, a celebration of freedom began. On this Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to creating a truly equitable SF, where we lift up the voices of the underrepresented and fight for those who have been left behind," SF Mayor London Breed wrote on Twitter.
Essence magazine writes, Juneteenth is the day Union Officer General Gordon Granger issued an order to slave masters in Texas to free enslaved Africans.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee who represents California's 13th District, which includes Oakland, broke it down in a Twitter thread including these tidbits:
"The army's declaration marked the beginning of what would truly be the final days of slavery in the United States." She added, "We've come a long way, but we've got further to go to acheive full equality and healing. That's why I'm also proud to support HR40 and am encouraged by today's hearings on reparations."
HR 40 is a bill sponsored by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. Essentially this would compensate the descendants of slaves in the United States.
Wednesday's hearing on Capitol Hill was contentious. The reparations issue has not been visited by Congress in more than a decade. It could play a role in the 2020 presidential election as lawmakers fall along pary lines on the topic.
Associated Press contributed to this report.