Last year, Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday. Now, some parents in Cumberland County find it important to not only celebrate Juneteenth but also ensure their children understand its significance.
For some, the federal recognition marked the beginning of Juneteenth celebrations. For others, it was only validation.
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the end of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation and is celebrated annually on June 19.
One of the most important parts of passing on traditions and holiday celebrations is instilling their teachings in children.
In the 2021 Juneteenth Freedom Festival Pageant, Jerel McGeachy Jr., 10, of Hope Mills won the title of Junior Juneteenth King. His father, Jerel McGeachy Sr., said he celebrates the holiday with his son the same way people celebrate the Fourth of July.
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“We still celebrate (Fourth of July) but not to the extent as we do for Juneteenth,” he said. “We go all out. We decorate the yard, put the flags on the house, put magnets on the cars.”
To McGeachy, the holiday is separate from the Fourth of July because that’s when some Americans were free but not Black Americans.
“I think it’s important that we celebrate our freedom,” he said. “I think it’s very important that we celebrate our own day for African-Americans, for the Black people, for the Black and brown people. It’s always great to have different.” ethnicities to come and celebrate with us just like we do for them. ”
Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony is the founder of Circa 1865, which started the Juneteenth Freedom Festival. She said teaching Juneteenth to her daughter Nina, 14, is mainly about teaching the resiliency of Black Americans.
“Passing this on, what I wanted to project is the power of our people even after extreme oppression,” she said. “That’s what Juneteenth is, it’s that bounce back. So, when you’re explaining it or teaching it, that’s what I really leaned on. This is where we come from; there is no problem that’s so big that you can’t handle it because this is in your veins. ”
Earlier teachings of Juneteenth
Learning about Juneteenth was different for some parents based on where they came from. According to Jonathan Frantz, social studies curriculum specialist for Cumberland County Schools, Juneteenth isn’t a holiday that isn’t celebrated in Cumberland County Schools because it’s outside of the school year.
Frantz said Juneteenth could be taught within history or social studies classes in lessons about the Civil War and Reconstruction, but it isn’t required in the curriculum.
According to Anthony, awareness of the Juneteenth holiday was more prominent in the North.
Being a Michigan native, Anthony said there were cookouts and conversations about it in her childhood.
“The farther north you go, the more regular Juneteenth is,” she said. “Once (Black Americans) migrated from the South, we took our traditions with us.”
Anthony said Juneteenth wasn’t something that people would see heavily celebrated in the South because of racism, segregation and Jim Crow.
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McGeachy said his wife knew more about the holiday because it’s big in her hometown in Kansas, but it wasn’t something he really knew anything about while growing up in Hoke County.
“We didn’t learn about Juneteenth. The first time I had a Black teacher, I want to say I was in nine or tenth grade English class,” he said. “I didn’t learn about any of that.”
When it comes to teaching children outside of the Black community about the significance behind Juneteenth, Anthony said the main thing to teach is acceptance.
“We are Americans, this land is our land,” she said. “This is commemorating our time as Americans. So this is about the Black community taking pride, owning that red, white and blue because this is our land, it was built.” on our backs with our blood, our sweat, our tears. “
Staff writer Akira Kyles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.