For many African Americans celebrating Juneteenth is and was never a one-day event. We celebrate Juneteenth at family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, and countless other events. We celebrate Juneteenth whenever our descendants graduate from college or start a new business. We celebrate Juneteenth on family Sundays– a tradition going back in my family for multiple generations. As American descendants of slavery, we must make sure that non-commercial traditions of Juneteenth are passed down from this generation to the next.
Now that Juneteenth is a federal and state holiday, we should enhance our efforts. Let us not forget the real purpose of the holiday. As we celebrate Juneteenth 2021 and beyond, remember the People who received the “good news” in Galveston, TX. Do not forget the People who were still “enslaved” on the plantation long after the news of freedom was delivered in 1865. Do not forget the people who are still enslaved today.
This weekend, let us gather to celebrate freedom by remembering those who did not have the opportunity to have an open celebration then and now. Let us research our family history by creating and sharing a family tree. Let us gather around the picnic table to eat and take the time to plan for generational wealth. Let us take a road trip to our ancestors’ homes and property and devise a plan to keep it in the family. Let us celebrate the freedom seekers who ran away to the swamps and bayous by planting a tree in their honor. Let us celebrate the near 200,000 African Americans who served in the Civil War, visit their graves, make sure they are clean and cared for, and thank them for their service.
Some of us are given a paid day off to reflect, remember, and honor. And just like the first Juneteenth, some of us are not afforded a day of rest.
The fight continues until victory is won.