SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The Charleston church shooting was on the minds of many Saturday, as thousands gathered to commemorate Black Independence Day in southeast San Diego.

“It's really a great historic occasion for us to come together and show appreciation for each other,” said community member, Calvin Clayton.

The annual event is known as Juneteeth, which honors the end of slavery in the United States. It originated on Imperial Avenue 50 years ago as a small celebration in a parking lot. Now, it takes up an entire city block.

“I think my father would be proud we continued the legacy,” said Sidney Cooper, Jr.

Cooper's late father was the business owner who started the Juneteenth celebration here in San Diego. His goal was to bring all communities, no matter the race, together.

“If we continue to do stuff like this… there are great things ahead,” he said.

That notion is supported by many, especially now in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, which resulted in the death of nine innocent people.

Many people who attended the celebration held candles, asking for peace across the nation.

“One isolated incident shouldn't cast a shadow on such a historical moment,” said community member Alicia Rivers.

While what happened in South Carolina is on everyone's mind, many say the tragedy shouldn't take away from the reason why so many people decided to come together and celebrate.