|by CCDC Chairwoman Charlotte Valyo
There are few, if any, better examples of the racial divide that still exists in our country than Juneteenth. The holiday, marking the date the last slaves were informed of their freedom, has been celebrated by Black families in America for more than 150 years, yet most White Americans had never heard of it until recently.
It seems inconceivable that a holiday celebrating the long overdue freedom of so many Americans has long been recognized by so few. Fortunately, that is now changing and we all, myself included, need to use this as a time to remember that freedom looks and means different things to all of us. Many trapped in cycles of poverty, battling structural racism, and working to overcome generations of injustice still feel like they are fighting for freedom. While we have certainly made progress since the end of slavery, the pillars of injustice on which that evil institution stood, in many ways still remain.
Getting to this point has not been easy. The struggle to achieve federal recognition for Juneteenth has been going on for decades. Now that we are marking the second year of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, many people are looking for ways to respectfully and authentically celebrate the holiday, honoring Black culture and achievement, and recognizing the ongoing struggle for justice and equity. Here in Chester County, we’re fortunate to have the Voices Underground Juneteenth Street Festival in Kennett Square, as well as many other local celebrations.
Let us all take the opportunity this Juneteenth to enjoy and celebrate the rich history and heritage of Black Americans, while remembering and recommitting to joining our friends and neighbors on the long path our nation still must traverse before we achieve true equality for all.