Juneteenth: Celebrating and Honoring History

As we begin to collectively reflect upon the upcoming Juneteenth, it’s important that we remember the history behind the meaning of the holiday and what it represents for us. For me, this year has been a year of reflection, knowledge sharing, and community growth. With enhanced awareness of anti-blackness amongst marginalized and majority groups, it is important that we recognize one of the many triumphs the black community has experienced despite years of systemic oppression and racism.  

Juneteenth represents the day that those enslaved in the Southern U.S. were informed of their new freedom. While the emancipation proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, and congress passed the 13th amendment on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery, it was not until June 19, 1865, that Gorgon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX and shared that the war and slavery had officially ended. 

I look forward to seeing how the Cambridge community celebrates this year safely. I love that the Cambridge and Boston communities take pride in celebrating the freedoms that were informed on that day and to pay respects to the generations that fought to make that freedom a reality.  This year, to commemorate the event, the YWCA Cambridge will be joining the Margaret Fuller House’s Juneteenth celebration which will feature Black local businesses. In addition, YWCA Cambridge will engage with local teens through an activity table at the gathering. I am excited to see Juneteenth be celebrated by more ethnic, religious, organizational, and racial groups this year due to increased awareness of the holiday’s significance.

Carmyn Polk, Chair of the Social Justice & Advocacy Committee, YWCA Cambridge  

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