Celebrate Juneteenth With Us

Celebrate Juneteenth With Us June 13, 2024

Celebrate Juneteenth with Us 

By Nicole Chung, Youth & Cultural Specialist

Juneteenth (June 19th) became a federal holiday in 2021. However, African Americans have been celebrating this day for generations upon generations, the first celebrations starting in 1866, after Major General Gordon Granger declared the final implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, on June 19, 1865, which declared the beginning of the end of slavery following the American Civil War. This was significant because cell phones or phones did not exist in those days; there was no internet, and the fastest way to get a letter to another state was via “horse” power. Slavery ended in 1865 but hundreds of plantations did not get the message until well into 1866.

The history of celebrating Juneteenth is creative, filled with joy, and filled with an abundance of love despite the purpose behind the celebration. This reminds me of the plight of African Americans in general. Historically, there has been a negative connotation as it relates to how America and the world often views the “Black” struggle. Whether it is our health being described in terms of disease, deficit, and death; having environmental and economic hardships, or the way media constantly negatively portrays a negative story line, which continues to feed into inequities and inequalities that plaque several of our communities and families. Despite it all, there is a significant collective as well as individual resilience among African Americans. Despite of, my people have taken their mourning and turned it into dancing, and our adversity we continue to turn into joy.

My family represents a melting pot, yet my history is deeply rooted in my African roots. I have had the privilege of celebrating this day since I was old enough to remember. I knew a few facts about Juneteenth from a young age and I would like to share these things with you. Firstly, this day, this weekend really was created because finally we were free from plantation slavery. Secondly, despite whatever the cost we were going to dance and exhibit our joy and resilience through music and movement. Thirdly, we were going to eat delicious food for our bodies and be fed through story telling food for our soul.

If you take anything away from this, I humbly ask as you take this day off, don’t just take this day for granted. This federal holiday came at a cost of the blood, sweat, and tears of my ancestors and the ancestors that came before them. Despite this, my people have taken their mourning and turned into dancing and our adversity we continue to turn into joy.

 

Happy Juneteenth,

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