Posted by By:Destiny Vincent (President of AACC) on 6/16/2023 8:15:00 AM

What is Juneteenth?

June 17th, we celebrate Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, Jubilee Day, and how most know it as Juneteenth. A holiday that is part of African American history along with Black History Month and other days that represent our heritage. Barack Obama once said “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, chage is possible - and there is still so much work to do.” Did you know a lot of people don’t know what Juneteenth is? Many see it as another holiday that they get off like other religious holidays and don’t realize the purpose behind it. 

As you know Juneteenth took place June 19, 1865. Without having a clue of what to do African Americans had been held enslaved for hundreds of years and all of a sudden someone says they’re a freeman. Most families had been separated from each other. Husbands had been ripped away from their wives and mothers were forced to watch their children get taken away by unknown people. African Americans weren't even allowed to grow intellectually or in any other way. Can you imagine not having your own last name or the ability to read or write? All they knew was work, produce children and continue that cycle. Juneteenth is a day to commnemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. 

But Juneteenth wasn't just handed to us or given due to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation but our ancestors who fought for it for hundreds of years and still tried to grow themselves in the process. 

For example, Jamelle Bouie, an African American columnist, once said, “Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom, which began as soon as chattel slavery was established in the 17th century, and gained even greater steam with the Revolution and the birth of a country committed, at least rhetorically, to freedom and equality. In the fighting that struggles, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.”

But how does this relate to Juneteenth? Juneteenth is important to Black Culture. It represents a part of our roots that isn't discussed much in society. A day that represents a life-altering, generational change that would impact those to come. 

Juneteenth teaches me to love my history, respect my history, and learn to share and teach it. To carry and store away this history is a crime but to share it with the world even when others aren't listening is a blessing. We lift our voices and sing about a long overdue national holiday stemming from our enslaved ancestors. To have a past that we can learn from and look back to is so inspiring and motivating, pushing us forward to create a better future for ourselves. To prove what our ancestors believed, we could do, we can do, and we are doing it! Black excellence is thriving and we only continue to improve daily.