I am writing to support the establishment of Juneteenth, which President Biden made into a federal “day of observance” in 2021, as a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Council should recognize it with funding for programs, staffing, and events. Creating a commission to guide its planning is a good start.
“The depths of oppression on life and freedom,” as coined by Thomas Blanton, sums up the root of the reason, the importance and the necessity of mandating a commission on Juneteenth. The Honorable Frank Smith, author Carl Adams, Charles Hicks, Peter Bug, and Steve Williams of the National Juneteenth Observance Commission have stated the value to not just African Americans, but to the nation and the world, to the establishment of a Juneteenth Commission in D.C.
Juneteenth is an annual event celebrated in many overlapping ways by the African American community in what we call Homecomings, church Anniversaries, family reunions, and the Galveston, Texas Juneteenth celebration in remembrance of the formal announcement that all people are free; no more was there the existence of the brutal peculiar institution called Slavery.
There are many views on Juneteenth. I understand the emotional ownership many African Americans and other people of color hold because of the history of physical and verbal abuse and legalized discrimination. As a Black woman, native Washingtonian, and citizen of the United States, remembering the history, celebrating fights for freedom, and the passing of the 13th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution, it is equally important that every person hold dear the cost of freedom and recognize where we have been, what we as humans have overcome and why we must stand brave to never let the values and rights of human beings be rescinded again in the United States (and the world).
Further, Juneteenth should be a celebration and recognition of what we have achieved as a nation, even though we still have a lot of work to do, regardless of race, gender, color, and most creeds.
Let us take one small step to instill greater practices of freedom through celebration, learning and promoting constructive actions to enhance, create and secure a more free and peaceful world starting in the nation’s capital.
Let my freedom ring, for it is inclusive of everyone and excludes no one.
Angie Whitehurst is a vendor and artist with Street Sense Media.