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People in Lincoln share why they’re celebrating and remembering Juneteenth

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For most of us, learning about the new federal holiday Juneteenth might have not been in our K-12 education, but it’s never too late to learn.

Here’s a bit of history:

In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves to be set free, but it wasn’t until 2.5 years later when the last enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were actually told by union solders that they were free.

That day, June 19, 1965 is the reason for Juneteenth.

At the time, according to the Nebraska History Museum, Black people hadn’t yet settled in Nebraska. The first Black person didn’t come to the state until 1868. Eleven years later, 150 more came from Mississippi, but were eventually forced out.

Hundreds will come together in the Capital City to not only celebrate the holiday but also to remember its significance.

You might remember the series 10/11 NOW’s Kamri Sylve did during Black History Month called “Telling the Untold.” When that series wrapped up, she said that Black history is American history.

So, what does it mean for Nebraskans to celebrate Juneteenth in 2021 and most importantly, why?

Kamri met with Lincoln City Councilwoman Sandra Washington and Charlie Foster, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Inclusive Student Excellence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“For every community, there is this desire to congregate and know about your history,” said Foster.

“I can’t even imagine. Today, we would’ve never had news that was held for two years. I mean I’m sorry, even the Pony Express got there faster,” Councilwoman Washington said.

“Slavery was impactful on people, and it wasn’t that long ago. I think that’s important for people to note,” Foster said. “My father was born in 1926. His parents were born in the 1890s. His grandparents would’ve been born in the 1870s. So, they would have grown up right after slavery. That’s just three generations away from me. So, it’s not that long ago, and I want people to sit with it, to understand that people are still trying to get over, get past, get to a place where we can go forward.”

“I think we should all care about freedom, and really, Juneteenth is a celebration about freedom,” Councilwoman Washington said. “So, when all of us are free, it’s a much better place to be.”

“I know that there are some folks who remain unhappy about slavery ending, and that saddens me,” Foster told 10/11.

Councilwoman Washington said, “We’re all in this together, and we are now out celebrating our freedom together.”

“Take your kids. Take your grandma. Go and learn together as a family about our history,” Foster said.

“I just want folks to stop and think about freedom. I want them to talk and think about what it means to be free, and what they like about it,” said Councilwoman Washington.

“It doesn’t matter what you look like, who you love, where you’re from, just go,” Foster told 10/11.

Juneteenth celebrations are happening Saturday, June 19, 2021 at Trago Park in Lincoln from noon to 5 p.m.

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