Statement by Open Buffalo Youth Action:
Juneteenth is recognized as an official city holiday here in Buffalo and a state holiday in 46 other states but does not have the formal respect as a federal holiday. Juneteenth symbolizes the last enslaved people being freed in Texas in 1865. It stands as a remembrance for all of our ancestors who were whipped, beaten, and dehumanized; that none of their pain and sacrifice was in vain.
Now, 156 years later, still there are systems that need to be overturned, oppression still slaps our faces, and racism still spits at us, mostly behind screens and closed doors, and the occasional grocery store. Natalie, newest member to Youth Action said, “It is crucial that we not only acknowledge, but actively address present day racism, both on individual and systemic levels, because the shackles that perpetuate oppression are far from broken. Nominal equality, that which is proclaimed just in the name of the law, is not equivalent to true equity.” Yet, our media outlets would preach otherwise.
This nation has come a long way and it still has a long way to go before all the agencies that validate and perpetuate racism are extinct. "We aren’t free until all of us are free. I celebrate Juneteenth in order to honor the voices of African-Americans who fought for American freedom without having the privilege of sharing that freedom themselves." Voiced by Youth Action member Zanaya.
We can never forget what was done to us as a people, but we can certainly learn and overcome all that is ahead of us. Moreover, as a community, it is for the greater good to understand our history and celebrate the journey that was taken and the journey that is being walked right now. Regardless of the lack of Black history taught in grammar and high school (that in itself needs some work), we can still overcome these barriers and continue learning about all the triumphs that were made to get this far.
Youth Action Executive Member Jontae said passionately, “Juneteenth is the day the last enslaved people became free, but they don’t teach us this in school because they want to hide our ancestors’ voices. It’s time for change! Now Happy Juneteenth.”
June 19th is a glorious day to celebrate. For those who were unaware of what this day has meant to many Black Americans throughout the years, we are glad you are now able to share this knowledge. Jordan, Youth Action Executive member, expressed, “Juneteenth is a monumental moment in African-American History. It was Jubilee that day and it is up to us to remember our history.” Let us never forget where or how we got to this day and age. Let us teach the ignorant the truth and importance of this day, as we walk, shout and rejoice our Independence Day. Fist up!