WASHINGTON — Friday officially kicks off what is about to be the mother of all Juneteenth celebrations! America, y’all trying to do it up big!
Usually, it’s a weekend filled with block parties, family reunions and uncles in jean shorts holding it down on the grill, but look at what is happening this year!
We got state governor’s looking to make the day a paid holiday. We got portraits of Confederates being taken off the walls of the Capitol building. We got businesses giving employees the day off. There's even talk of making the day a federal holiday. It’s like Juneteenth is finally getting the respect it's been deserving, and it's only taken about 150 years for it to happen!
I'm tempted to ask what took you all so long to catch up, but in the newfound spirit of this moment, I’ll leave that for another day.
Seriously though, our nation coming together to celebrate this day is an important step for this country. I don’t think the importance of June 19th, 1865 can be understated. That was the day that America began her official march towards living up to the ideals that the founders signed their names to. The march hasn’t been a straight line. We’ve allowed ourselves to be pulled off course more than once. We've had our setbacks. But we've been able to get ourselves back on track, mostly. To keep moving forward.
These gestures that are being made, the portraits coming down, the talk of holidays, the corporate support, they’re all fantastic shows of recognition and support. But there needs to be substantive action along with them.
A simple start, seeing to it that educational curriculums teach Black history year-round, like any other history, beginning in elementary school. That way our children, all our children, can learn the rich history and contributions of Black people in this country. And that history shouldn't start with the middle passage, kids need to know there was a rich history from which they are descendent before there ever was a Jamestown. Let’s also not allow today to overshadow the fact that there are still people marching in the streets, and why they are out there.
I'm going to enjoy today, and I hope you do, too. Take a few moments this weekend to consider how we are going to bring about the long-lasting changes we all have recently begun to claim we want to see. And I hope all of you have an uncle that knows his way around a grill.
However you celebrate Juneteenth, meet me on Facebook or Youtube to unpack it all at our weekly Virtual Barbershop. This week, we're raising money for Black Lives Matter D.C. And yes, before you see me next, I will have gone to a real barbershop. I've seen the comments. You wrong.