Texas born, and surrounded by black and brown people in all my schooling, I still had to look up what exactly Juneteenth was on my own, at an embarrassing age. I did so because the Juneteenth parade in my neighborhood was so fabulous, I just had to know what exactly we were celebrating. Most of my friends will admit they didn’t know about Juneteentth till they moved to Texas, and, taking a short and informal community poll this week - many still do not know what it is or what it stands for.
This is an oversight.
One of many.
This one is big because it promotes a certain kind of willful ignorance that I simply cannot bear to live with. Honestly, can you?
It’s not so much that I feel a typical pride for what makes a US national holiday, it’s noticing that this type of willful ignorance is so big, so blatant, that now we go about our days blind to our country’s painful history, still not equating that freedom from being enslaved never equaled freedom from oppression.
Black History is American History.
Juneteenth is a day that commemorates African American freedom. While this date has numerous significance, it became an official state holiday in Texas on Jan 1, 1980 - 4 years before I was born. Marked Juneteenth by African American state legislator Al Edwards, this was the first emancipation celebration to receive official state recognition. 1980. 4 years before I was born.
Recognizing this day, Freedom Day, as a national holiday would ensure that younger generations and future leaders will not make this oversight. It will also ensure that we, as a nation and a globe, acknowledge not only the history but more so, the inherent value of a healthy education system as well as the indispensable necessity of actively and aggressively dismantling systemic racism.
Juneteenth is already recognized as a ceremonial holiday in 47 of the 50 US States and District Of Columbia.
If we are taught that public holidays are to signal importance and reflect the values we hold dear… educate yourself and contribute your voice by signing the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday at http://chng.it/fDCQ9Jdgnd.
From Texas with love,