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Written by Landlin May, an influential, courageous leader, connecting on a divine level, sharing my passion for community through entrepreneurship, music, and social activism.
What does Juneteenth mean to you? Better yet do you know what Juneteenth is?
I asked several African Americans what Juneteenth meant to them personally and received a variety of responses from, “it was the day Texas slaves were emancipated” to “it’s a symbol of our independence.” In the field of responses, some were radical such as “we are still slaves, we’ll never be free,” and “it’s a day for us finally!”
This direct feedback allowed me to reflect within and analyze my own thoughts about the significant holiday that is not even nationally recognized.
Photo of Landlin
If we rewind in the history of our country, President Abraham Lincoln issued the ‘Emancipation Proclamation,’ declaring that all slaves in the US were free men. There was only one problem – the confederacy did not identify as members of the union so this new “proclamation” would not be respected in southern states.
Finally, 30 months after the original decree to free slaves by President Lincoln in 1863, the remaining slaves in the southernmost tip of Galveston, Texas were freed on June 19, 1865.
Personally, Juneteenth exemplifies the true oppression and passive racism displayed on a daily basis. From the burning of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921), or the 1994 Crime Bill, to the constant victims of police brutality, African Americans in this country are still in search of true freedom.
The one month dedicated to the rich history and prosperity of black Americans is cut short. But, what if the entire country just took a day to recognize black liberation?
For me, the 19th day of June represents the promised land. The bondage to be “no more.” Profiling. Racism. Oppression. How can words that have held so much truth for two centuries maintain their status as trending topics into today’s ever-changing media? We have to recognize our own inconsistencies and work toward unity until those three words are not synonymous with the experience of being a black American.
On Juneteenth, we celebrate the struggles we share and the advancement of colored people throughout the nation. Juneteenth has a plethora of meanings that some can only describe in their personal experience – whether that’s anger, excitement, or liberty is the common denominator.
That leaves me to ask you…what does Juneteenth mean to you?