Let’s talk about JuneteenthJun 19, 2022
There is so much happening as we approach the Summer Solstice. ☀️ There are graduation events happening all over NYC. Today is Father’s Day, AND Juneteenth. This week is Black Babywearing Week. It is Pride Month, and the Parade is soon. SO. MUCH. GOING. ON.
I am going to side-step father’s day, today - not to minimize them and the impact they have on their children. I have done many years of newsletters, blog posts, and social media bits about Father’s Day. However, here in this space, I have never stopped and acknowledged Juneteenth. I would like to do that today. I am also going to talk about graduation some too!
Juneteenth - also known as Black Independence Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day - celebrates the freeing of the last slaves in 1866, four years after the Emancipation Proclamation and one year after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. Celebrated in Black communities ever since. Juneteenth became a federal holiday just last year, when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Today, Sunday, June 19th (observed on June 20th) marks Juneteenth. This holiday serves as both a joyful celebration of freedom and a sobering reminder that progress is slow and hard fought.
Whether you are just becoming aware of this holiday or you have been celebrating it as long as you can remember... I would like to share two different 'celebration and sobering reminder' examples. I will take a step back and let these stunning young adults and their Head Master shine - as is especially appropriate today!
At Brooklyn Latin, the high school my son attends, the discipuli TA's (upperclassmen who are teaching assistants for lower grades) created this brief video: What Every New Yorker Should Know about Juneteenth. They worked hard on this video during the pandemic. If you would like to learn more about this holiday, this video is a nice start. It’s short, factual, and thought provoking. Please enjoy their work. Hats off to Michael Liu, Tracey Ferrao, Courtney Webb, Silvano Spagnuolo, Axl Mensah, Iyatta Morgan Mariano, Kayla Morgan and their advisor Mr. Wolf for their work on this video.
All the kids who made the video, and their senior classmates at Brooklyn Latin just graduated Friday - yes, that includes my son! The Head Master, Ms Billy - as the kids call her - is an amazing woman and administrator who leads from her heart. During Friday's commencement, she shared;
"We are thrilled to be celebrating this educational milestone with our seniors and their families near the eve of Juneteenth. It is appropriate, because education and emancipation are fundamentally linked. Frederick Douglas - a man born a chattel slave who went on to be an abolitionist, suffragist, author, orator, founder of schools, and vice presidential candidate - wrote on this theme his 1894 letter "Blessings of Liberty and Education":
"With education, he is the commander of armies; the builder of cities; the tamer of wild beasts; the navigator of unknown seas; the discoverer of unknown islands, capes and continents, and the founder of great empires, and capable of limitless civilization.
But if man is without education, although with all his latent possibilities attaching to him, he is, but a pitiable object; a giant in body, but a pigmy in intellect, and, at best, but half a man.
Without education, he lives within the narrow, dark and grimy walls of ignorance. He is a poor prisoner without hope. The little light that he gets comes to him as through dark corridors and grated windows. The sights and sounds which reach him, so significant and full of meaning to the well-trained mind, are to him of dim and shadowy and uncertain importance. He sees, but does not perceive. He hears, but does not understand.
The silent and majestic heavens, fretted with stars, so inspiring and uplifting, so sublime and glorious to the souls of other men, bear no message to him. They suggest to him no idea of the wonderful world in which he lives, or of the harmony of this great universe, and hence impart to him no happiness.
Education, on the other hand, means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free.
To deny education to any people is one of the greatest crimes against human nature.
It is to deny them the means of freedom and the rightful pursuit of happiness, and to defeat the very end of their being. They can neither honor themselves nor their Creator. Than this, no greater wrong can be inflicted; and, on the other hand, no greater benefit can be bestowed upon a long benighted people than giving to them, as we are here this day endeavoring to do, the means of useful education.”
Opal Lee, shared in the Time magazine article “The Best Way to Honor Juneteenth, According to Activists Who Helped make it a National Holiday” the following quote, “I hope hope Juneteenth becomes a day of service. At the very least, I wish is for people to do one kind act for someone.I don’t mean we just come together and celebrate. We’ve got to look after each other.” I thought this was a nice and very easy thing for anyone to do today. I will do a shout out too for a few companies that you can also support all year long!
For babywearing: Check out, Babue Baby, and Starlita from Mamaconnect Instagram post highlighting black babywearing brands for even more!
Urban Vegan Kitchen: for amazing vegan food here in the City and soon to be our neighborhood as well!
Nneji is a west African restaurant just down street from Bianca and I that has wonderful soups and stews, plus a small shopping area for fabrics and handmade goods.
Camille at the Wheel: for a unique one of a kind gift!
Mess in a Bottle: Merch and Clothing with a message
Here is my son with the best headmaster in the world!