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Michiana celebrates Juneteenth

Many see Juneteenth as the actual Independence Day since not every American was free on July 4th, 1776 (the adoption of the Declaration of Independence).
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 12:24 AM EDT
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(WNDU) - (WNDU) - All over the country, Americans are celebrating Juneteenth, the official end of all slavery in the US.

Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday, becoming so just last year, and Michiana residents are celebrating and remembering America’s past.

“It’s a day of memory, basically whether you remember the good or the bad, remember the journey we’ve come through. We’ve gone uphill, we’ve gone downhill, and ultimately, we still have a lot more to go,” said Antwon Williams, event coordinator at the Juneteenth Celebration in Elkhart, IN.

The Emancipation Proclamation read “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate States “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

“I think it’s important to know that again, today is not just a black holiday. It is about celebrating black freedoms, but it is about unity in America. You know, we’re all free,” said Williams.

Even though the Civil War ended two months earlier, and the Emancipation Proclamation was issued over two and half years prior, some enslaved people were still unaware of their well-warranted and rightful freedoms but were still shackled by southern plantation owners.

So, on June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved peoples were freed.

“Once they came to that point of knowing, it was even a loss of, okay, now what do I do? So, it was still a struggle after this situation,” said Ylonda Scott, an organizer for the Juneteenth Festival in Niles, MI.

Part of those struggles continued into the US congress, when from 1865 through 18 70, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments would be passed, respectfully abolishing slavery, granting black Americans citizenship, and giving black men the right to vote.

“A lot of people had to rebuild and relearn life as what they knew it to be. So, it was a big struggle for people who had no freedom to now be free, but then how to live as free people,” said Scott.

And the progress that has been made is far from over.

Scott continued by saying, “We want to bring awareness to our kids. We want them to know that you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. You don’t have to pick up a gun. We just want them to know that you can come out and have a good time and enjoy each other and just be happy.”

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