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Some Reflections on Juneteenth:
Last year, after passing successfully through the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Biden, Juneteenth (June 19th) became an official Federal Holiday. Before that, the majority of the states (45 of them) had recognized the date as an important marker in U.S. history and some even had festivities and celebrations, but there was no national, coherent message that acknowledged its importance.
This year, as we mark the date with a work and class holiday and the entire country observes the “new” holiday, I would like to point out that it took over 155 years for the U.S. as a country to get in a page that officially observes, acknowledges, and celebrates the end of chattel slavery. The length of time is significant, as the end of slavery in the US came after over 200 years of humans owning humans, culminating in a devastating civil war. Since the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, approximately 6 generations of Americans have been taught that slavery had been a sad chapter of American History, but were not helped to mark, reflect on, and celebrate the importance of its ending (the very thing that holidays are supposed to do).
This coming Monday 20th is the first time the entire country is taking a moment to celebrate Juneteenth together as an official holiday. As we do so, we should reflect on what the date has meant for Black folks in the country (since they or their ancestors learned about emancipation as late as two years after the Proclamation), and what it should mean for all of us today. We should also seek to understand why it took so long for this country to acknowledge the historical importance of the date. So, yes, let us celebrate this important date in our history. But, let’s also be aware that the fact that we failed to acknowledge the meaning of the date for so long is also worthy of consideration.
With all that, I wish everyone a happy Juneteenth celebration!
News & Events
- CES major Yubi Lojewski won WSU’s Community, Equity, and Social Justice Award for WSU Students. Yubi was the only undergraduate student to win the award. For a video of the awards, please go here. The award for Lojewski begins at the 3:51 mark. She is introduced by the nominating faculty member, Dr. John Streamas (Associate Professor of CES)
- Interview with John Streamas about his work in Washington State Magazine
- Director Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo and Professor Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo (CES) published an article titled “Narratives of Infectious Threat and Contagion Crises in Contemporary Immigration Rhetoric” in the journal Label Me Latina/o.
- Get the Scoop on SLCR News here.
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