Celebrated since June 19, 1865, Juneteenth is often referred to as our Second Independence Day, a day when formerly enslaved people celebrated their freedom. With much celebration, last year at this time (2019), Governor Sununu signed SB 174 into law officially recognizing June 19th — Juneteenth – as a State holiday. Today, 47 states and the District of Columbia have codified Juneteenth as an official holiday.
It’s long been important to study and learn from history. These days present a new opportunity, matched with a renewed sense of urgency for us all to learn history from those who have lived it. It’s important to fill in possible gaps in our memory of lessons learned in school, or to study anew the formative events of our country.
There are many opportunities to participate in virtual events happening around the state in the coming days, just a few include: The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, based in Portsmouth, is hosting Juneteenth celebratory events. Keene State College will take to their Instagram Live feed on Friday afternoon with a compelling speaker, Dr. Dottie Morris, who serves as the College’s VP of Diversity and Equity. Dottie will connect the historic Juneteenth with current events from 2:30-3:00. If you’re on Facebook you’ll find the official page for New Hampshire Juneteenth Celebration.
And, although we’re not traveling to the National Mall, the website for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian, is a tremendous resource. As part of their Juneteenth reflections there is a video of an interactive tour of the Museum with their founding director Lonnie Bunch, III found here: https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/celebrating-juneteenth.
For anyone who may have an additional interest in the intersection of race and blindness, we’re reading the book Blinded by Sight by Osagie K. Obasagie, in which he shares some startling observations. He discusses the ways we are all socialized to see race, posing important questions about how we live our lives.
Listening to the voices of Black Americans is the place I’m starting. I hope you’ll join me.