Juneteenth 2022: Events highlight history, community

“We need to know so people can heal and never let it happen again,” said Opal Lee, 95, who has pushed for national recognition of the holiday.

After Opal Lee led hundreds of people in a walk through her hometown of Texas to celebrate June 16, the 95-year-old Black woman who helped successfully promote the holiday to national recognition said that It is important for people to learn the history behind it.

“We need to know so people can heal and never let it happen again,” said Lee, whose 2 1/2-mile walk through Fort Worth represents his 2 and a half years of practice in Texas. President Abraham Lincoln. Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery in the Southern states.

A year after President Joe Biden signed the legislation last year, making June 19 the nation’s 12th federal holiday, Americans across the country gathered this weekend at overwhelming events. music, food and fireworks. The celebration also emphasizes learning about the past and addressing racial disparities. Many people celebrated the day just as they did before there was any official recognition.

June 13, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the day in 1865 when Confederate soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free the enslaved inhabitants of the state – two months after the Confederacy. The South surrendered in the Civil War.

“Great nations do not overlook their most painful moments,” Biden said in a statement Sunday. “They confront them to grow stronger. And that is what this great nation must continue to do.”

A Gallup poll found that Americans are more familiar with the day than they were last year, with 59% saying they know “many” or “some” about the holiday compared with 37% a year ago in May. The poll also found that support for having history on June 13 taught in schools rose from 49 percent to 63 percent.

However, many states have been slow to designate it as an official holiday. Lawmakers in Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and elsewhere have failed to deliver on proposals this year that would close state offices and lay off most of their public employees.

RELATED: Despite the push, states are slow to make June 13 a paid holiday

Celebrations in Texas include a celebration at a park in Houston created 150 years ago by a group of formerly enslaved men who bought the land. At times, it is the only public park available in the area to black Texans, according to the reserve’s website.

Jacqueline Bostic, vice president of the board of directors of Emancipation Park and the granddaughter of one of the park’s founders, Father Jack Yates.

This weekend’s celebrations include performances by The Isley Brothers and Kool & The Gang. In the weeks leading up to June 13, the park hosted discussions on topics ranging from health care to policy in communities of color to the role of green spaces.

As more people learn about June 13, “we wanted to tap into that and use the moment as a tool to educate people about history, not just African American history, but history as well.” American history,” said Ramon Manning, chairman of the board of directors of Emancipation Park.

Participants include Robert Stanton, the first African-American to hold the position of director of the National Parks Department, and Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, who grew up in the historic Black neighborhood where the park is located. and was killed by Minneapolis police two years ago, the officer sparked protests around the globe.

In Fort Worth, celebrations include the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, named for the Black cowboy who is credited with introducing cow-herding, or directing, wrestling. Rodeo president and CEO, Valeria Howard Cunningham, said children often express surprise that there are real black cowboys and cowgirls.

Torrina Harris, program director of the Nia Cultural Center in Galveston, the birthplace of the holiday, says more young people are getting involved in planning the June 16 events.

June 13, Harris said, offers an opportunity to reflect on “various practices or norms that are at odds with libertarian values” and consider how to challenge those.

Some of the biggest celebrations in America involve not only the history of slavery in America but also the celebration of black culture, businesses, and food.

In Phoenix, hundreds of people gathered for an annual event at Eastlake Park, which has become a focal point for civil rights in Arizona. The newly crowned Miss Arizona June 13 used her forum to talk about how she feels empowered alongside her Black women in the state pageant, part of the global pageant. presents and celebrates the academic and artistic achievements of Black women.

Shaundrea Norman, 17, whose family comes from Texas and grew up, said: “It was a moment to build sisterhood, not to compete for the crown, but to celebrate the intelligence of each other. Black women and being true to yourself.” .

Kendall McCollun, 15-year-old Miss Teenager June 13 Arizona, said the holiday is about the fight for social justice.

“We have to fight doubly for the same freedoms as our ancestors fought hundreds of years ago,” she said. “It’s important that we continue to fight for our generation, and this day is important to celebrate how far we’ve come.”

Associated Press writer Kimberlee Kruesi of Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report. Mumphrey reported from Phoenix and was a member of the Associated Press’s Race and Ethnicity team. Juneteenth 2022: Events highlight history, community

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