Why Juneteenth is Vital to Black America
The truth about why "Black Folks" honor a past that still affects present-day.
Juneteenth is a day of remembrance and celebration for most of Black America. I say “most” because not all Black Americans grew up with the historical stories of Juneteenth. Sure, many of us are familiar with the holiday now, but growing up in the 80s in middle-class Virginia, provided “zero” knowledge of this historical pillar in history. So why then, is Juneteenth such a big deal in today’s American landscape? What’s even more alarming is that in the Deep South, Juneteenth had been celebrated since that day in 1865. Where has everyone else been? Why are grown people in northern states just learning about it, and why did it take 30 United States Presidents lifetimes to make it a nationally recognized day? In truth, Juneteenth has now flooded the hearts of millions that were blinded (or shielded) from events that surrounded African American history. Ironically, the nation is at odds about educating its citizens about the events that led up to Juneteenth, nor its importance in America’s turbulent past. The primary reasons that Juneteenth is celebrated derives from the discovery of a forgotten (or hidden past), the exposure of the true origins of a nation and its effects in present-day, and lastly, it's a reference point, a beacon (if you will) to all of Black America. This reference point fuels an unquenchable awakening of consciousness about who we are as a people, a nation, and the totality of the world that we live in today.
Juneteenth is, in essence, a reflection of the true soul of a flawed nation. It is a reminder of a day that after 246 years of “American” bondage, the last slaves were set free. It is a larger misconception that Juneteenth is the day of freedom for slavery in America. Yet, in all actuality, the slaves were set free two and a half years (2.5) before this landmark date. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law in 1863. Southern slave owners, in their reluctance, were slow to release their slaves. So slow that it took two and a half (2.5) years for the slaves in Galveston, Texas, to be set free from their captors. It was at this moment that Juneteenth was born.
The Great Awakening:
Juneteenth plays a vital role in Black America because it provides a trail or record of both good and bad experiences for future generations to build upon. This trail allows descendants to transcend the boundaries of time to appreciate and cultivate historical moments that affected generations of enslaved people. In reality, it also allows us to be more conscious of the world around us. Additionally, Juneteenth instills a sense of pride, hope, and inspiration that reminds us that no matter what, we can overcome even the darkest times in our lives. The educational significance behind this day extends past the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth also serves as a freedom marker that signifies when Blacks could start building their own lives and making their own way. To gain insight from Juneteenth and all its experiences, it forces people to study. It is within this immense research that an awakening occurs. In other words, to comprehend the magnitude of that day, readers must start sifting through historical data to formulate all the parts of the story. You see, it’s like putting together a gigantic puzzle that is full of experiences, pains, joys, and hardships of an entire people. For this task, we must time-walk into the past -further than Juneteenth. Further than Jamestown and before the 1619 arrival of the first slaves to Colonial America.
In the end, know that for Black America, Juneteenth is a gateway, a symbolic door. This door unlocks profound wisdom by analyzing all of the events that led to that day in 1865. Although there are many more stories of the Black Experience, Juneteenth resonates with the masses because it replenishes through remembrance. It marks a time in our shared history where our forefathers' very fundamentals and principles are exposed for what it really was. Juneteenth remains relevant 156 years later to the Black community because it symbolizes the long journey to freedom and the continuous fight for equality and humanity in America. In the end, Juneteenth is vital to Black America because it provides an unmistakable universal understanding, uplifts and magnifies communities, and recharges our eternal spirits. This historic day solidifies an ancestorial passage that grants access to all who truly want to know what was, what is, and what is to come for a brighter tomorrow.
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Keywords: Juneteenth, FreedomFest, 757FreedomFest, FreedomRUN, Slavery, Miss Juneteenth Virginia, Miss Juneteenth VA, Virginia, Black History, Black Experience, 1619, 1619 Project