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PLEASANT HILL — As people celebrate Juneteenth, many are also remembering Willie Mays and what he meant for the Black community.

In Pleasant Hill Wednesday, people gathered to reflect on those that paved the way for African Americans today.

It’s only the second annual Juneteenth celebration in Pleasant Hill. QuyNitta McDade was there with her husband and two boys. She was in disbelief when she heard of Mays’ death. “First thing I said was ‘Oh no. Not Willie!”

McDade not only admired Mays from afar, she works at a law firm that he frequently visited.

“When he would come, he was so down-to-earth,” she recalled. “He knew the gravity and he carried the weight of his legacy but he wouldn’t treat people like he was above them.”

While Jackie Robinson was the first, the “Say Hey Kid” continued to keep the playing field open for Black ball players.

“I play shortstop, second base, center field, pitcher and first base,” said Matthew McDade.

“When you see Willie and the amazing things that he’s done, it lets my kids — my young boys — know it can be them too,” QuyNitta said.

On this Juneteenth, the message couldn’t be clearer. Lisa Sanders and her daughter Maliyah are celebrating the progress that’s been made and the work still left to do.

“I am my ancestors wildest dream,”  Sanders said. “It’s like the stuff that my ancestors was not able to have the opportunity and the freedom … everything they fought for in the past, we’re able to do today.”

QuyNitta McDade had a message for Mays.

“Rest in peace, Willie,” she said. “You will always be remembered — never forgotten!”