Go Figure, Juneteenth. A Celebration…
Talking about what you don’t know, well that’s what this article is all about. Recently during a team meeting I was asked to share my thoughts on Juneteenth; I should add that I am the only Black American on my team so it does make sense that if someone was going to write the article, it would be me. Oddly, I realized that I did not know much about Juneteenth; even though it’s considered a black holiday, celebrated by people of color in almost every state.
So, I accepted this challenge of finding out more about Juneteenth and then sharing it with our Heartland Rural Health Network audience. I will add that while doing this research it led me to think about the many things that have been requested of people just because they are labeled as this or that and have no real experience or knowledge of said topic. It’s like the subtle art of not seeing someone. Going back to what I was talking about here is what I did learn about Juneteenth from my research. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Cel-Liberation Day or the Black Fourth of July, is an American holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865. It was on this day, after almost two and half years since the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved African Americans were informed of their liberation from the slavery present in the former Confederate States of America. Texas was the most remote of the slave states, and the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, was not enforced there until after the Civil War had ended. The name of the observance is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”, the date of its celebration.
Growing up in the inner city of Chicago, I learned pretty early on about the high level of injustices and inequality that exist and because of it I began to form a number of opinions on a great many of things; i.e. the job market, the economy, the educational system and owning property based on the view of a young man of color. Some of those opinions were helpful and some harmful but little did I know that there was a day to commemorate our advancement in those areas of concern, that day being Juneteenth.
I am happy to have learned more about Juneteenth and why and how its celebrated around our nation. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing“, and readings of works by noted African-American writers. Other celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties and historical reenactments. I hope that, like me, you have been inspired by the diverse history of our country and the many ways in which we have grown.