What Is Juneteenth?

June 17, 2012 By Kiki Poe

junteenthJuneteenth is a holiday commonly celebrated by the Black community. June 19th, 1865, is when the city of Galveston, Texas, found out the war had ended and all slaves had been emancipated becoming the last state to free their slaves. This message arrived two and a half years after the proclamation. The importance of this day is clear. Not only are we celebrating the end of a time of enslavement but also a time when a people overcame injustice.

I didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school, for whatever reason this was skipped over. I, instead, learned of this holiday from my community. There were always celebrations, small in numbers but still you could feel the pride. To have pride in myself I needed to have pride in my ancestors, those who came before me. The word Sankofa is used within the Black community, originating in Africa, which roughly translates to go back and reclaim our past.

We’re making history now, every day, each and everyone one of us. There are groundbreaking events happening and ALL of this should be included in the history books. Sankofa might have originated in Africa but can be used across cultures. The LGBT community has to go back and reclaim its past as well. All of the people who have played a significant role in helping achieve freedom, putting their lives on the line should be remembered for their efforts.

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