It seems right to borrow the words of the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Lonnie Bunch III, who dubbed Juneteenth both a local story and a national one.
“For me it’s an opportunity to both look back but to look ahead to make sure that that notion of freedom and the fragility of it is always protected and celebrated.”
Minted as a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth is the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States that dates back to 1865. Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, that good news took two years to reach the last enclave of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. The significance of that day, then, is that on June 19, 1865, all enslaved people were emancipated. Juneteenth now serves as a National Day of Independence to honor and celebrate those who suffered enslavement.
Juneteenth is an important holiday for African Americans because it marks the end of one of the darkest periods in their history. It is also a time to celebrate the progress that has been made since slavery was abolished. However, it is important to remember that the fight for racial equality continues. Juneteenth is a reminder that we must continue to work towards a future where “every one of us counts” and all are treated equally.
Each of us—no matter our color, size, or shape—has a right to be treated with dignity and respect. As community college professionals, we must ensure that every student, faculty and staff member has a seat at our communal table. You have only to look into our classrooms, to realize that diversity lies at the core of our mission. We are, first and foremost, an educational institution, but we also serve as a bastion of calmness, serenity, safety and opportunity for all who enter our doors.
CCBC recognizes Juneteenth as a significant marker not only in Black History, but American History. It is a time to come together and reflect on the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. At CCBC, we must continue to do the work so that everyone feels valued, diversity remains a strength and all cultures, ideas and viewpoints are honored. Working together, we can create a more just and equitable environment, not only for our college community, but also society at large.