YWCA Tri-County Area joined other community groups at a Juneteenth celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 19 at Memorial Park in Pottstown. YW3CA also sponsored the Montgomery County Chapter PA Democratic Black Caucus Juneteenth Celebration 5 to 9 p.m. at the Norristown Black Lives Matter Mural.
Juneteenth is a celebration of the official end of slavery on June 19th, 1865 and has finally been declared as a federal holiday. This holiday serves as a symbol of freedom from slave trade across the United States, today Juneteenth provides an opportunity to reflect on what progress is still needed, as well as celebrate Black joy and community.
Observed by African Americans since the late 1800s, early celebrations of Juneteenth involved families getting together, observing prayer, sharing meals, and in some cases making an annual pilgrimage to Galveston, Texas. Also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, today folks continue to celebrate by bringing families together over food, parades, and festivals.
While Juneteenth is marked as a day of celebration for African American freedom in the United States, it also is a time of education and reflection. Juneteenth activities emphasize African American history and culture that go beyond the common narrative and that reflect the actual happenings of the time.
“Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said, ‘Truth and reconciliation are not simultaneous, but they are sequential’”, said Stacey Woodland, CEO of YWCA Tri-County Area. “I hope the creation of the federal holiday marking Juneteenth will begin a national, truthful discussion about slavery and its aftermath that will lead to the reconciliation that is racial equity.”
While progress has been made since the abolition of slavery, there is still considerable work needed for achieving complete equity for Black and African Americans. Without openly acknowledging our country’s history and the ripple effects it has had into the present, we will never eliminate the racist barriers to safety, economic advancement, and health, Woodland said.