Note: The march to Grant Park can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 11 a.m. CST.
More than 500 faith leaders and several elected officials were expected to participate in a march in downtown Chicago Friday, calling for an end to systemic racism on Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, is an annual celebration marking the end of the slavery in the U.S. The holiday commemorates a specific date — June 19, 1865, the day many enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed.
Demonstrators in Chicago will gather at 12 p.m. at Roosevelt and Columbus and march north on Columbus to Grant Park. Organizers say the march is expected to draw thousands of people.
Several elected officials like Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth will be in attendance, their offices said.
Pastor Chris Harris of Bright Star Community Church in Bronzeville says the movement has five pillars: systemic racism, housing, economic development, physical and mental health as well as pushing for legislation aimed at these goals.
"Our June 19th ascension to Grant Park will mark the beginning of a citywide movement designed to unite the faith community and residents of this great city in a common cause: the elimination of systemic racism, and so much more," Harris said in a statement.
“Strategically, we chose to start our march and movement at the Christopher Columbus Statue, not just because of its obvious symbolism, but because we want to highlight the deceitful and disruptive foundation upon which this nation was founded," he added.
The march will take place as protests and demonstrations continue in Chicago and around the world following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. The march to Grant Park was one of several scheduled to take place in Chicago Friday to commemorate Juneteenth and call for racial justice.