Juneteenth: A symbol of freedom and equality, celebrated by all

Juneteenth: A symbol of freedom and equality, celebrated by all

Juneteenth: A symbol of freedom and equality, celebrated by all

By Aleisha Robinson
Internal AFRO
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Juneteenth is widely celebrated in the United States, marking the day freedom came to all slaves in the Confederate States during the American Civil War. Eventually, chattel slavery was outlawed by the 13th Amendment, and black people in the United States were able to throw off the bonds of slavery in 1865. Although the story of the African diaspora includes a variety of independence days, Juneteenth is unique to African Americans.

Although other members of the African diaspora celebrate their independence days, Juneteenth is a holiday unique to the African American community in the United States. (Credit: Unsplash / Oladimeji Odunsi)

While many would agree that the holiday should only be observed by African Americans, others believe that it represents a broader meaning of freedom and equality and can be celebrated by all across the nation’s borders.

“Juneteenth commemorates the day 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas, which became the last bastion for slavery in the final days of the Civil War, were declared free by the U.S. Army,” said Wayne Dawkins, professor of practice at Morgan State University . .

“I see the holiday as a teaching moment, I think it’s important for people in the African diaspora to know the history of slavery and the struggles of their ancestors.”

The celebration of this holiday began in 1866, when Texas hosted Juneteenth festivities, which included prayer gatherings and wearing new clothes as a symbol of liberation. The celebration has now grown to include speeches, family gatherings and educational activities.

Opal Lee is recognized as the “Mother of Juneteenth” for her campaign to gain national recognition for the holiday, which became an official federal holiday in 2021 after being a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years.

While Juneteenth is well known and celebrated in the African American community, many Americans were unaware of the holiday prior to 2021, and others are still in the dark about the true history of the event.

Tyra-Neil Morrison, an information systems and technology student at Morgan State University (MSU) and president of the university’s Caribbean Student Association (CSA), said she “doesn’t know much about certain black American cultures and customs,” only that she learned. around Juneteenth when he started college.

“My knowledge expanded when I got to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). My friends who were from different backgrounds would invite me over (house) for cooking and talking about black history,” Morrison said.

She said that although her home country does not celebrate Juneteenth, she believes the holiday should be included in the school curriculum to educate students about their cultural background.

Morrison, who is of Jamaican descent, said that instead of recognizing Juneteenth, there are celebrations of Jamaican independence on Aug. 6 each year.

Black nations around the world have independence days that vary from country to country. In the Caribbean, the Haitian Revolution took place from 1791 to 1804. Haitians gained independence on January 1, 1804. In Africa, the nation of Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, just a few years after Ghana, which gained independence on March 6, 1957.

Morgan State University African Student Organization President Afia-Ayisha Doreen Andoh from Ghana shared her thoughts on the subject. Andoh believes that Juneteenth should only be celebrated by African Americans in the United States.

“I think it’s important that it’s celebrated by the US, but not necessarily through African and Caribbean countries,” Andoh said.

Despite differing opinions on the observance of Juneteenth, Dawkins argued that the holiday should be used as a teaching method. He believes the holiday should be “commemorated and not celebrated”.

“I’m not telling anyone not to celebrate Juneteenth,” Dawkins said, “I just want them to be aware of its meaning and why we have it.”