Metro Atlanta celebrates Juneteenth -- but many say more work needs to be done

ATLANTA — Thousands of people in metro Atlanta are gathering Saturday to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday.

One of the biggest celebrations is at Centennial Olympic Park this weekend.

But while many people are very happy about Juneteenth now being recognized as a federal holiday, other people feel like there is more work to be done.

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Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke to a national activist from Atlanta.

“We need more than symbolism, we need tangible legislation that will result in monetary compensation,” said Marcus Coleman, who has been fighting for the rights of Black people through his organization called Save Ourselves.

Coleman said Juneteenth is the perfect time to talk about reparations. June 19 1865 is the day slaves in Texas were finally freed, two and a half years after slaves in other states were freed.

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All the free labor those enslaved people did building this country shouldn’t be forgotten.

“I do not see how you can have a nationally recognized holiday that is for the suffrage of our ancestors without the reparations of slavery to go with it. It’s like bathing without soap and water,” said Coleman.

Fulton County commissioners are joining the nation in figuring this all out. They created a task force to figure out if reparations should be in the form of land, money, or something else.

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“We know that Harvard, Georgetown, The University of Virginia all have money set aside specifically for reparations. We know A city in North Carolina has 3% tax that goes to reparations. Reparations for slavery is a priority,” Coleman said.

Black business owners who decided to open a restaurant in College Park called Aye-Tea-Elle also believe reparations are necessary to put us all on an equal playing field.

“If this is something that happened over 150 years and we’re just really getting into the surface, oh my goodness, we got a lot work to do,” said owner Jovan Dais.

On Saturday afternoon, the restaurant is hosting a block party on College Street in College Park to give back to the community. It’s absolutely free to celebrate Juneteenth at this event.

“We got all types of characters coming out. We got snow cones, ice machines, cotton candy; we really wanted to do it for the families. We’re just now getting to come back outside so it just made sense.”

Coleman hopes that when all the celebrations are done, people will get to work.

“Shame on us if we don’t use our political power during this uprising right now. We’re asking the tens of thousands of Caucasians who were marching with us over the summer to do more than chant during a protest. We need you to get behind the legislation for reparations for slavery. It’s the right thing to do,” said Coleman.