Santa Cruz Juneteenth celebration about looking at the past and the future

Juneteenth is a national holiday celebrated annually on June 19. Here on the central coast, various celebrations are happening over the weekend. On Friday, Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, a social justice non-profit, came together to recognize and commemorate the holiday.”As important as it is to celebrate the end of selling people, we still haven’t ended slavery. And we need to remember that we still have work to do.,” said the Rev. Deborah Johnson.Juneteenth, a blend of the words June and nineteenth, is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation day. It was officially recognized as an American holiday by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.On June 19, 1865, many enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Many observe it as the second African American holiday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Dr. John Brown Childs is a Professor Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz in Sociology. He was part of the Civil Rights Movement and said that Juneteenth is a time of happiness.”Having hope even if there doesn’t seem to be any reason to have hope. Because things do change. If not for me, if for the next generation and the generation after that. We always need to keep on struggling whatever the result because it’s the right thing to do. For justice and for freedom,” Brown Childs said.Isaac Collins, an audio engineer and artist at Barrios Unidos, calls Juneteenth a celebration of all people, life, and a time to honor those that came before us.”The youth need to see art. They need to see just our expressions at that moment. There is so much going on. We don’t get a chance to come together like this and do it. It’s important. It’s important to be active in our community,” Collins said.Those in attendance say in today’s climate, now more than ever, it’s essential to have these discussions of race in America. Many also point out that slavery isn’t finished, and there are just other forms today. “One of the things that we need to remember is that we tend to think of it as the end of slavery however, the way that we wrote our constitution, the 13th Amendment says that slavery and involuntary servitude are ended except as punishment of a crime,” Johnson said. “And there’s a way in which we just morphed slavery into buying and selling to the criminalization of Black and brown bodies.””A word that has become pretty infamous over the last couple of years since George Floyd is systemic. We have a rich history of systemic racism here in the United States of America. We overlook it. We don’t hold our elected officials accountable,” said Sam Cunningham, with Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos.Cunningham also points out that African American achievements aren’t the only overlooked. Still, it’s about different minorities as well.”Women, Latinos, Natives, Asians, African Americans for every race that has been oppressed by this systemic racism. Over the last 250 years, or so is super important for me,” Cunningham said.Johnson says it’s important to remember that our whole economy was built on slavery, and it was the foundation of America.”You can’t change something by redecorating the house; you have to redo the foundation. I’m hoping Juneteenth helps us keep so many important discussions alive,” Johnson said.

Juneteenth is a national holiday celebrated annually on June 19. Here on the central coast, various celebrations are happening over the weekend. On Friday, Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, a social justice non-profit, came together to recognize and commemorate the holiday.

“As important as it is to celebrate the end of selling people, we still haven’t ended slavery. And we need to remember that we still have work to do.,” said the Rev. Deborah Johnson.
Juneteenth, a blend of the words June and nineteenth, is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation day. It was officially recognized as an American holiday by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.

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On June 19, 1865, many enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Many observe it as the second African American holiday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dr. John Brown Childs is a Professor Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz in Sociology. He was part of the Civil Rights Movement and said that Juneteenth is a time of happiness.

“Having hope even if there doesn’t seem to be any reason to have hope. Because things do change. If not for me, if for the next generation and the generation after that. We always need to keep on struggling whatever the result because it’s the right thing to do. For justice and for freedom,” Brown Childs said.

Isaac Collins, an audio engineer and artist at Barrios Unidos, calls Juneteenth a celebration of all people, life, and a time to honor those that came before us.

“The youth need to see art. They need to see just our expressions at that moment. There is so much going on. We don’t get a chance to come together like this and do it. It’s important. It’s important to be active in our community,” Collins said.

Those in attendance say in today’s climate, now more than ever, it’s essential to have these discussions of race in America. Many also point out that slavery isn’t finished, and there are just other forms today.

“One of the things that we need to remember is that we tend to think of it as the end of slavery however, the way that we wrote our constitution, the 13th Amendment says that slavery and involuntary servitude are ended except as punishment of a crime,” Johnson said. “And there’s a way in which we just morphed slavery into buying and selling to the criminalization of Black and brown bodies.”

“A word that has become pretty infamous over the last couple of years since George Floyd is systemic. We have a rich history of systemic racism here in the United States of America. We overlook it. We don’t hold our elected officials accountable,” said Sam Cunningham, with Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos.

Cunningham also points out that African American achievements aren’t the only overlooked. Still, it’s about different minorities as well.

“Women, Latinos, Natives, Asians, African Americans for every race that has been oppressed by this systemic racism. Over the last 250 years, or so is super important for me,” Cunningham said.

Johnson says it’s important to remember that our whole economy was built on slavery, and it was the foundation of America.

“You can’t change something by redecorating the house; you have to redo the foundation. I’m hoping Juneteenth helps us keep so many important discussions alive,” Johnson said.

Contributed by local news sources

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