Up & Coming Weekly

June 15, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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12 UCW JUNE 16-22, 2021 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM In honor of June 19th, known as Juneteenth, Up & Coming Weekly sat down with Dr. Carla Fagan, Director of the Social Work Program and Associate Professor of Social Work at Methodist University. We asked her to help us understand the history and continued relevance of Juneteenth. Can you explain the significance of Juneteenth? Dr. Fagan: Juneteenth is short for June 19th. On June 19, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, with orders to read General Order Number 3 — a proclamation stating that all enslaved people were to be set free. "e people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proc- lamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. is involved an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former mas- ters and slaves, and the connection heretofore exist- ing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer." Most people know that Lincoln issued the Eman- cipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing enslaved people. ere are many versions of why this news did not reach Texas, but it did not until June 19, 1865. For African American people, Juneteenth is In- dependence Day, Freedom Day - the official end to enslavement. Juneteenth represents many different things to different people. Juneteenth is a day to re- member, a new beginning. It is a day to celebrate the resilience of our people, to bring families together to reflect, to educate, raise awareness about the many challenges faced by African Americans — how far we have come and how far, still, we have to go, to reach that place of total freedom, equality, equity and inclusion. How does Juneteenth compare to other days of remembrances? Dr. Fagan: Juneteenth is not as well-known as other remembrances. While it is celebrated in 48 of the 50 states, efforts to make it a national holiday have not yet been successful. Most recently, Sen. Ed Markey (D) introduced S.475-Juneteenth National Independence Day Act earlier this year. One could compare Juneteenth to Independence (July 4th), Armistice Day (now Veteran's Day-Nov. 11th), or International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Janu- ary 27th). ese days of remembrance are about freedom — the end of British rule, the end of WWI, the freeing of the Jewish people in Auschwitz. All represent a new beginning, as does Juneteenth. All represent the mandated end of oppression, enslave- ment, genocide, but also signal the beginning of a new struggle to keep the freedoms won. Juneteenth inspires African Americans to remember the resil- ience of our ancestors, celebrate their victories and educate and motivate our children to follow their dreams. How do you celebrate Juneteenth personally, and how can others? Dr. Fagan: As an African American woman, June- teenth is a great time to reflect on who I am, where I came from and where I am going. I take great pride in my heritage. My people have had to be stronger, more resilient, more determined and more skilled, just to survive. Historically, African Americans have had to be twice as good to get half as far. Living while Black can be hazardous to one's health if one does not remain ever vigilant and wary. Living with micro-aggressions and being the target of explicit and implicit bias can be very tiring and wearing on the psyche. Juneteenth is a time of reflection, new inspiration and renewal. "We've come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his Holy Word, He's never failed me yet…" (lyrics by Carlton Pearson). Juneteenth is a time to renew spirit, mind and body. Juneteenth is a time to spend with family, recon- nect with our history, our heritage and share this heritage with others. Juneteenth celebrations are filled with educational activities, family reunions, games, decorations, symbols, sharing all the great- ness of African American history. Juneteenth is also an opportunity for African Americans to embrace others and share our history with the rest of the world. is world can only celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion if we all learn to practice these principles in our everyday lives. How can we honor Juneteenth and be better allies in general? Dr. Fagan: is country has committed a huge disservice to all people in that history has been distorted, sanitized and plain lied about. ere are hundreds of historians who have carefully re- searched American history and have exposed the many untruths told in our history books. Recently, many more people are becoming aware of this and are asking to learn the "truth." e willingness of people to recognize the distortions in our history books is a first step to learning the truth. Education, affirmation, understanding, all play an important part in laying bare the real history of this country. Why did it take 2 1/2 years for the enslaved people of Texas to learn that they had been free for 2 1/2 years? Why, in 2021, are African Americans still fighting for the right to vote? Why must I teach my son how to respond if stopped by the police? Why must I still be twice as good to get half as far? Allies have stepped up all through the Civil Rights Movements and have marched shoulder to shoul- der, sacrificed their lives and freedom, stood by to the end. at kind of commitment is still vital in the struggle of African Americans to achieve equity and inclusion. COVER Juneteenth: Remembering the past, recognizing the work ahead by KEYURI PARAB COVER Dr. Carla Fagan An illustration depicts the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. (Photo courtesy U.S. Collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) A band celebrates Juneteenth in Texas, 1900. (Photo courtesy Austin History Center)

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