STATE WIDE--You may have heard about South Bend recently making Juneteenth a city holiday. Several cities in Indiana have done that to celebrate the holiday that commemorates not the Emancipation Proclamation, but the date that freedom was proclaimed for slaves in Texas, which came over two years after freedom was proclaimed by Pres. Abraham Lincoln.
Prof. Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, head of the graduate program for African-American Studies at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, called the date not only a joyous celebration, but a “time for thinking more seriously about the meanings of freedom, justice, equality and fair play”.
She also said that while the holiday is to commemorate the end of slavery, the holiday is not just for Black people.
“If people are interested in making the world a more harmonious place to live, then it should have meaning for everyone,” said Calloway-Thomas. “We see this in some of the celebrations we have. For example here in Bloomington, Indiana, we see white American participating in Juneteenth.”
As more cities in Indiana have chosen to add Juneteenth to their lineup of annual paid holidays, Calloway-Thomas said she believes the state will likely take it up as a state holiday at some point.
“The time will come when it comes,” she said. “The more states acknowledge the beauty and elegance of celebrating such a marvelous moment, I think other states will come aboard.”
Juneteenth has also been traditionally called “Black Independence Day”. But, the professor said she believes Black Americans can celebrate both, citing a speech on July 4, by Frederick Douglass, called “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” in which he presents the argument, at the time during slavery, that slavery is an affront to the values put forth in the Constitution.
“We should not bifurcate. We can celebrate Juneteenth and also celebrate the Fourth of July,” she said.
While she believes that America has been faithful to some of her promises to African-Americans and all people, Calloway-Thomas said there is still work to be done.
Juneteenth can be a reminder of all those things, the promises, the values and the road still to be traveled, she said.
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