By Michael Kile-Rasmussen
June 19,1865, was the original Juneteenth celebration. It originated from the date on which the last slaves found out they were free – following the Civil War, in Galveston Texas. June 19th is the Emancipation Day after 400 years of slavery in the southern states. Slavery was the institution which made the United States a rich county. In the northern states, slavery did not exist, but it was segregated freedom, similar to Jim Crow in the south.
Traditionally, Juneteenth is a summer cookout with food, music and fun celebrating the culture of the African American community. We remember the heritage of our ancestors, the blood, sweat and tears that they put into cultivating and working a land that was not theirs and they did not own. I have so much gratitude and respect for their strength. I cannot image what it would have been like to be alive then.
I am proud of where I come from, that I have African heritage and that while my family members of 5 generations ago were in bondage, this day we are fee in society to show up and participate. To have a voice in the community and influence in today’s society is a major goal of mine. To live a full, meaningful life without common threat of current harm each day is why I am proud to live in America.
Happy Juneteenth! Happy Freedom Day!