What does Juneteenth mean to you?

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Wednesday is Juneteenth. a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The date goes back to 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their emancipation.  During our recent News and Brews community pop-up at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, we asked people what Juneteenth means to them.

Tiffani Saxton

Juneteenth to me is an opportunity to honor the truth of the history that we all share together, an opportunity to consider how we were formed, how we’ve changed, the work that we will continue to do together to make this nation all that it is meant to be.

John Vereen

Juneteenth is a great opportunity to apply history into the present for the betterment of kindness, love integrity, respect and peace. That’s what it really means to me. It’s the opportunity to understand how we behaved in the past and that we gained freedom and the be able to celebrate that, double down on the things that are going to make us better as we move forward.

Benita Wilson

I’m happy that there is a celebration for Black people. And I think it’s another day that allows us to have more information. But I’m also a July 4th person. So that’s the holiday that I’ve celebrated most of my life.

Elizabeth Vanderkamp

I am so grateful to know about Juneteenth because, I’m 60, and in my growing up years there was no such holiday. And I feel like in the past 10 years part of my work has been to re-educate myself and learn about the history I wasn’t taught. But there’s this whole history of women, history of African Americans, history of all kinds of people that have made the United States and I want to be part of celebrating that.

Auroré-Denise Ragston

One thing is it’s a holiday. I like holidays. So I like having the day off. Being a Texan and thinking “we’re number one in the world,” to see one of our days as a holiday and to see what it took to get it recognized. Sometimes when I’m in Texas, that heat is so unbearable. And I think about my ancestors being in that field. My dad, he grew up a sharecropper. But the other part is the sense of pride and gratitude for my ancestors.

 

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