The importance of celebrating Juneteenth

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2019

This year’s Juneteenth celebration at West Point River Park was cut short due to rain showers.

Before Mother Nature had her say, the attendees enjoyed a day of food and entertainment. Over 175 plates sold, in addition to all of the day’s other festivities. Past Juneteenth celebrations have included rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments and Miss Juneteenth contests. Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday in 45 states.

Juneteenth is a holiday that began in 1865 when an announcement was made that slavery had been abolished in the state of Texas. The name combines “June” and “19th,” the date of the announcement.

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Juneteenth is culturally referred to as the official independence day for black Americans. While there are still many issues that black Americans face on a daily basis, great steps have been made towards these citizens’ freedom in the centuries since.

Juneteenth is a holiday that hasn’t been traditionally taught in schools, however. The Mexicans defeating the Frenchman in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, and the subsequent Cinco de Mayo holiday, is now more culturally significant in vast swaths of the US than Juneteenth. In a few weeks, residents of all ages will pile into the parking lot at the Valley Sportsplex waving American flags while watching nighttime fireworks to celebrate the country’s independence from Britain. It is important for Juneteenth to be honored and celebrated alongside these other holidays, because of its significance in the African American community.

Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. are important and great, but so is Juneteenth. The Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day don’t negate the need for a Military Appreciation Month.

It is important for Juneteenth to be valued, because there’s a large demographic of citizens who have little to no knowledge about such an important day in American history. Knowing history is important,  because if you don’t know where you’ve come from, you won’t know where you can go.