(NNPA) — We have all heard the expression, "If you don't know your history, you will repeat it." And, there is good reason for us to remember one particular period of our history - Juneteenth. It marks the anniversary of the date the slaves in Texas were freed - two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted and slaves elsewhere were liberated!
Juneteenth refers to that time, between June 13th and l9th, 1865 and is sometimes known as the Black Independence Day. It is the oldest known celebration of slave emancipation, and in some areas is celebrated instead of July 4th. Texas was the last state in the union to make the announcement of freedom and what began as a single state celebration has turned into a nationally recognized holiday.
In the month of June, many of us are focused on multicultural activities and reenactments of historical events. What we must remember are the hardships our ancestors endured so that we could prosper. Just as families came together to celebrate their long awaited freedom in 1865, we should do the same today. We have come a long way from the chains and irons that once bound our family members, but not far enough. Many of us, as we became educated, forgot some essentials. But, we must remember yesterday, and in doing so, reach back and reach out to our brothers and sisters who have not been as fortunate. Back in the day, slaves were not allowed many privileges like reading. Now that reading is not a crime, we can learn about our history and pass that knowledge onto others.
Today, Juneteenth remains a time for families and communities to reconnect, to remember the past and to look forward to the future. We should, however, celebrate African-American freedom every day in our thoughts and actions while encouraging self development, tolerance, teamwork and respect for all cultures.
If you have access to a computer and the Internet, type in "Juneteenth" at any search engine and you will discover a wealth of information and even controversy about this special event. If you do not have a computer, then visit your neighborhood library. It can provide just as much — if not more information - on this observance and any other era in history. As you look into Juneteenth, also look into your own family history. Do you have an ancestor who was part of the war effort? Where did your family live in 1865?
Remember, the seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past. We are here today, because of those who came before us. It is never too late to honor them and yourself by remembering and passing that knowledge on. Good news is always timely!