What Juneteenth Means to Me
June 19, 2020
Activists take to the streets to demand change and many individuals have adopted an old tradition to make a point about racism in America.
Even though the Emancipation Proclamation had established black freedom (on paper) nearly two and a half years prior, Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, established the date when Black slaves became Black Americans in 1865. On this day, Union General Gordon Granger marched thousands of troops to Texas to proclaim that the war had ended and that all slaves were to be freed.
Juneteenth became recognized as an official holiday in Texas in 1980. Many other states and foreign organizations around the world then established Juneteenth as an official holiday. Juneteenth can be deemed the oldest known holiday that acknowledges Black American freedom. This holiday, rooted in black American history, has alternate names – Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and the Black Fourth of July.
However, many Americans, black and white, have never celebrated Juneteenth and many more have never heard of it. So, what makes this Juneteenth important?
Juneteenth of 2020 is a critical step in the recognition of the struggles POC have faced in America. Many young people, including those without much power, have come together, making the Black Lives Matter movement truly remarkable.
This generation, which consists of high school and college students as well as young adults, have looked to each other for support worldwide while those who are in power send their regards.
During these times, many have taken to social media to keep everyone on the same page. People are calling police stations and government officials directly asking for justice and organizing protests and boycotts in hope that more positive change will happen.
For many of these individuals, Juneteenth is a celebration of what this generation has done without the help they should have had. The students and younger members of society have stood proud despite having a president against them and their cause.
In the past few weeks, police reform has undergone tremendous changes that benefit not just minorities, but everyone. Because of the massive outcry surrounding George Floyd’s death, which sparked another civil rights movement, the advocacy of change has helped put those who participated in the execution of Floyd in prison along with many other police officers who thought they were above the law.
Minneapolis banned the use of chokeholds, Dallas adopted a “duty to intervene rule” requiring cops to step in if another cop is using inappropriate force, and Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.
Additionally, many states and organizations have taken down relics such as statues that acknowledge the history behind the Confederacy and anti-American/racist propaganda.
On Juneteenth 2020, many are celebrating those who have made change happen. It is a way to protest how America has handled racism so far.
As many companies and organizations plan to celebrate Juneteenth, Millikin plans to do the same. But everything can’t be solved with a celebration.
The position Black and Brown students at Millikin have to take puts us on edge. Throughout the turmoil while trying to stay connected, there is a deep fear of what is going to happen next that many of the white students, faculty, and administration cannot begin to understand.
We have been advocating for changes and trying to educate as many people as possible in a way where individuals will actually listen. We educate our educators, suggest changes, and try to help Millikin’s goal of being a campus truly committed to diversity despite having our own responsibilities.
Juneteenth isn’t the end to all of this. It’s a moment to make a point and really force society to look at what is happening. After this day, many businesses, organizations, and schools will be held to a higher standard. This generation will be louder and demand only greatness from those who serve them. Those who have fueled the movement will no longer waste their time educating those who are fully capable of educating themselves and initiating a racially unbiased agenda.