Why I Observe Juneteenth

Jun. 10, 2013 / By

Commentary • Asani Shakur

I write this in the spirit and honor of my ancestors…

I recently asked a group of school kids in Richmond to tell me what they knew about Juneteenth and the Fourth of July. They all knew the basics of the Fourth of July – that it marks the nation’s independence day (although not all the kids could tell me who the U.S. was fighting for independence from). Not one of them, however, could tell me a thing about Juneteenth (June 19th), the holiday commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S.

After explaining to the kids what Juneteenth symbolizes, the discussion moved on to less serious things like famous athletes and entertainers. I left the conversation wondering how and why it is that these kids don’t know about the epic history of African Americans that led to the achievements of many of the very same professional athletes and entertainers they’d just been speaking about.

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