Dinisha Proctor and Renee Neal, 1199 members who work at John Hopkins Hospital, joined in a rally, march and festival on June 20 to draw attention to cases of Black women and girls killed or brutalized by police and, at the same time, to mark the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth.
“I think this is a good idea for us to come out today,” said Neal, an oxygen therapy technician. “We need to remember the women.”
Neal and Proctor, who works in environmental services, joined in the action sponsored by Baltimore Say Her Name, which began in downtown Baltimore and ended near North Avenue, site of April’s uprising after Freddie Gray died of injuries inflicted while in police custody. Called Rekia’s Rally and Natasha’s Jubilee, the event drew particular attention to the case of Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old woman, who was shot in the head by an off-duty Chicago police officer in 2012, and Natasha McKenna, who died this year in the custody of the Farifax County, Virginia police, after she was repeatedly tasered while her hands and feet were restrained.
With this Baltimore action occurring only three days after the massacre of nine African Americans by a White supremacist in South Carolina, some protesters also carried signs bearing the names of the nine victims and calling for an end to racist attacks. The action also marked the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, when the last of those enslaved in Texas were liberated after Union soldiers—many of them African-American—defeated the entrenched Texas Rebel government.