An activist group of current and former students from the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District held a Juneteenth event at Pioneer Memorial Park in downtown Mountain View Friday.
The group, Justice Vanguard, called attention to the day that celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States, amid a national discussion of racism in the wake of several instances of police brutality.
“This is not a day to protest,” said Kenan Moos, who grew up in Los Altos, graduated from Los Altos High School and helped organize the event. “This is a day to celebrate. This is the day we were told we were free.”
Organizers aimed to educate the local community about Juneteenth. They set up tables on the lawn, handed out fliers and initiated conversations with event-goers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 0.4% of Los Altos is Black or African American. The figure is 1.8% for Mountain View.
“It’s really easy to stay ignorant to these problems if you’re not experiencing them on a daily basis, or you live in a community that’s a little bit less diverse and you’re not as exposed to these types of things,” said Briena Brown, another organizer.
Brown said she was one of the few Black students who attended Mountain View High School. Her parents have given her “The Talk”: What to do if she gets pulled over, and what to do if her father – a general sales manager at Red Bull – doesn’t come home.
“Even his position doesn’t save him from the brutality that goes on,” Brown said. “I don’t want my dad to be another hashtag or a statistic. If I have Black children, I don’t want them to grow up in a world where this is still going on.”
Brown urged non-Black people to use their privilege to support people of color and become more proactive allies. Posting pictures, she said, is not enough.
Friday’s event in Mountain View was just one of many in Santa Clara County, with organized events taking place in Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Jose. Large-scale marches occurred in San Francisco and Oakland, where rally-goers shut down the Port of Oakland Friday morning.
“It’s not because (Juneteenth) became big,” Brown said. “It’s been big. It’s just being recognized now.”