African-American community celebrates Juneteenth through prayer

OAKLAND — The small congregation sat perched atop a hill overlooking Lake Merritt, and when the drums began beating from under the hill, the lake took on a symbolic meaning: It represented the African side of the Atlantic Ocean, where millions of people were forcefully captured and shipped to America as slaves.

A crowd of more than 50 people — most of them dressed in all-white traditional garb — gathered for the 11th annual Juneteenth Ritual of Remembrance on Saturday afternoon to remember the struggles of their enslaved ancestors and the continued struggle since their freedom after the Civil War. The event was organized by the Omnira Institute, a small Oakland-based nonprofit whose mission, they say, is to revive the African roots of African-American cultural practices.

Juneteenth is a…

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