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People participate in Juneteenth celebration in Los Angeles. Friday, June 19, 2020. AP Photo / Jae C. Hong)

In addition to the traditional cookouts and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation — the Civil War-era order that declared all slaves free in Confederate territory — Americans were marching, holding sit-ins or car caravan protests. 

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Reedy Chapel AME Church in Galveston, Texas.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, my great-great-great-great-grandparents were there.

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In this June 6, 2020, file photo, demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon, File)

Friday’s celebrations will be marked from coast to coast with marches and demonstrations of civil disobedience, along with expressions of Black joy in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation. 

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot presides over a virtual Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday recognized Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, but stopped short of making June 19 an official city holiday.

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Courtney Johnson, a South Side resident, stands in front of a vandalized statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park on Saturday, June 15, 2020. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Controversy over historical figures like Christoper Columbus is playing out with acts of vandalism in cities across the country. But in Chicago, statues honoring Columbus are not the only ones sparking tension.

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In this June 3, 2020, file photo, a protester waves a city of Chicago flag emblazoned with the acronym BLM for Black Lives Matter, outside the Batavia, Ill., City Hall during a protest over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh, File)

For much of its seven-year existence, the Black Lives Matter movement has been seen by many Americans as a divisive, even radical force. Times have changed.

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A still image from the PBS series “Asian Americans.”

From stories of Chinese railroad workers to the success of politicians and activists, the new five-part series highlights the stories of people from India and Turkey as well as China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.

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Pioneering journalist Ida B. Wells was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize special citation in 2020. (Pulitzer Prize; inset, Wikimedia Commons)

Having inspired successive generations of African American journalists, pioneering activist Ida B. Wells has finally received her due.

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Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders’ photograph of the first earthrise witnessed by humans. (NASA)

Apollo 8 astronauts were the first to ever witness an earthrise, a view of the planet that put its fragility into perspective and helped propel the environmental movement.

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Statue of Christopher Columbus (Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons)

There’s backlash from Italian American groups following a decision by the Chicago Board of Education to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day at Chicago Public Schools instead of Columbus Day. Is there a future for the holiday?

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In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 photo, a visitor experiences “The March” virtual reality exhibit at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago ahead of the project’s launch. (AP Photo / Noreen Nasir)

Imagine being so close to Martin Luther King Jr. as he gives one of the world’s most famous speeches that you notice the creases in his face and then realize the late civil rights leader is looking you square in the eye.

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The Chicago Board of Education officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day on the CPS calendar. (Joe Brusky / Flickr)

Members of Chicago’s Native American community were surprised in the best kind of way on Wednesday when the Chicago Board of Education approved the change of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in its school calendar.

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 Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones appears on “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

This year, the U.S. marks the 400th year since the Pilgrims arrived. But the year before that, a much darker period began with the sailing of the White Lion. We speak with New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones about The 1619 Project.

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The north side of the White House is seen covered in snow Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / The White House / Flickr)

Much has been said about the ways President Donald Trump is changing the presidency. On this Presidents Day, we look back at the ways the presidency evolved before Trump moved into the White House. 

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks with WTTW News.

A look back at the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose latest book has been decades in the making.

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An undated photo shows Cornelius Coffey

You may have heard of Bessie Coleman, the pioneering African American pilot from Chicago. But there is much more to the history of black aviation in this town. And though that story has been largely forgotten, it’s now inspiring a new generation of aviators.