June 19th marks Juneteenth, an annual observance recognizing the date Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to free 250,000 people months after the Civil War ended and more than 2 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 5 perspectives from the McKinstry community on how we can best commemorate Juneteenth:
Whenever I think about celebrating these great moments in history that have deeply affected me and my family’s lives, I reflect on how I can continue the efforts of those that came before me. I think Juneteenth should be a day of reflection about where we were and how far we’ve come. But it doesn’t stop there, there is still a lot of work to be done. I think Juneteenth is a great opportunity to think about ways that we can contribute to a better future. Being in a technical industry my thoughts go to supporting STEM education for BIPOC children. Finding ways to help students from underserved communities get access to education and resources will create a better future for us all. I think Juneteenth is an amazing opportunity for us to reflect, revere, and react to continue to effect positive change in the world.
We can best commemorate Juneteenth by first recognizing the progress our county has made in race relations when we are unified by a common vision. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to succumb to polarizing politics or divisive opinions, and not engage in challenging discussions with differing viewpoints; thus, no progress can be made. We should leverage this historic and pivotal celebration to connect with, listen to, and learn from the African American experience – the good, bad, and ugly! Coming together to better understand each other will build the community we desperately need to advance racial equality and inclusion. Research and understand the true meaning of Juneteenth, attend a local Juneteenth event to connect with the community, and be constantly curious about how to be part of the change we all wish to see in the world.
I think it is best to commemorate Juneteenth by spending time educating yourself. This could be 10 minutes by reading an article that explains the dates significance, 30 minutes listening to a podcast that highlights important stories of minorities and those who were enslaved, or a few hours participating in a community event. Personally, I remember my mother celebrating Juneteenth with our family as a child, but I didn’t really understand the significance of the date until more recently when a friend invited me over for a Juneteenth celebration and conducted a trivia game. This was a fun way to learn about the history of June 19th, 1865 but more importantly I felt knowledgeable, inspired, and motivated to learn and know more. And I believe if you know better you do better, therefore I encourage everyone to take some time to learn one thing related to Juneteenth that you didn’t know before. It will make us all better.
To me Juneteenth is a day to honor and celebrate liberation. If you are unsure why we celebrate this holiday the best way to commemorate is to take the time to learn about its history and its significance. Another way can be volunteering some of your time by getting involved with Black owned organizations and charities, and if you can’t find the time to volunteer, donating to those charities is another great option. Juneteenth is not only a holiday where you throw BBQ’s and party but it’s time for reflection, education and liberation.
To me Juneteenth is a celebration of African American liberation from many years of slavery in the U.S. — especially those living in Galveston, TX where for 2 years over 250,000 enslaved Black people were unaware that slavery was abolished in the US. My parents were born and raised in that area so it particularly hits home.
Growing up, my family and I have celebrated Juneteeth Day through art, music, theatrical performances and social interaction like block parties, eating ethic foods, and parades. I’m planning to do the same this weekend with my family.