My Juneteenth Weekend…
What a wonderful experience I got to have in Union County a few weekends ago.
Though not officially a federal holiday until last year, Juneteenth has been celebrated annually across the country to recognize the end of slavery. Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, federal troops arrived in Texas to free the last remaining slaves on June 19th, 1865. As news reached the newly freed citizens, people broke out in song and dance to celebrate.
I was honored to be invited to attend celebrations in Marshville, Indian Trail, and Monroe and appreciated learning about the history of the holiday. The music, dance programs, and art was amazing! I got to experience how a culture unlike my own expresses jubilance and celebration.
To see so many folks out there enjoying each other’s company was moving. To see people who have never heard of Juneteenth learning about the significance of the holiday was inspiring.
Leading up to the weekend I had questioned my right to be there as a candidate. No matter what, I knew that I was going to at least be there as a patron, but I feared that I was overstepping the boundaries of the Black community by helping to run a booth on their holiday. My fears were put aside when I was welcomed with open arms by every person who stopped by our booth. I spend the weekend listening to people. Listening to folks explain why they were celebrating and why my presence was not one as a stranger, but a friend.
As the weekend progressed and I spoke with voters I learned that nobody there viewed Juneteenth as a Black holiday but rather the most American holiday there is. It celebrates the last official day that fellow citizens were held in bondage. Why wouldn’t that be cause for every American to celebrate?
I was moved by the poetry and interpretive dances. I was tapping my feet to the music and in awe at the dance troupes. And I may have overindulged myself at a food truck or two.
But what I will remember the most are the smiles. The smiles were a welcoming sight. From young children to adults, nobody had a frown on their face despite the heat. Every corner of every event had people dancing and singing together.
I hope many of you will join me next year as I visit these events again to gather knowledge, experience culture, and to see smiling faces.
If you are in doubt, I assure you that you will be welcomed with open arms and love!