'It's important for all of us': Juneteenth celebrations precede Monday's Federal holiday

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Sunday, June 18, 2023
Juneteenth celebrations in Durham precede Monday's Federal holiday
"It's important for all of us"

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- We've shared several weekend celebrations of Juneteenth before the dawn of Monday's Federal holiday, including a commemorative observance at the Golden Belt campus in Durham.

"It's important for all of us. It's definitely something, culturally, that we need to incorporate into regular national holiday life," said Nicole Swiner as she observed the vendors, food trucks, and health-related opportunities with one of her daughters.

But some people have some questions about the meaning of Juneteenth as well as its origin.

"Because a lot of times, when we say Juneteenth people are like, 'What are you saying? Are you saying, June 10th? June whenever?' And so, a lot of time people don't understand that," said Lawrence Davis III. "They understand the importance of Independence Day on July 4th, but not necessarily the significance of June 19th."

That day and the year 1865 are linked to the lack of freedom for the enslaved in Galveston, Texas.

"For almost two years, between the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth, the enslaved did not know they were free. So the fact that they are able to officially recognize this as a day of observance? We're super excited that we were able to play a part in this," Davis said.

The event's organizers, Spectacular Magazine and the Triangle Cultural Awareness Foundation moved their 2023 Juneteenth celebration from Main Street in Durham to Golden Belt. They've already educated some younger people during their first 17 years of local holiday recognition. That could be one reason for the enthusiastic response from fifth grader Blake Swiner when asked if she's learned about Juneteenth.

"I have. Many times, at my school. We learn about it a lot," she said. "We've learned about the history, about Harriet Tubman and those in our ancestry who have gone through the Juneteenth stuff."

Vendors on Sunday included some with books about Juneteenth for sale, to share the history lesson with those who couldn't make it to the celebration.

You can find more information about Juneteenth here.