NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Our city has always played a part in the story of America and also in the story of Juneteenth.
Asali DeVan Ecclesiates of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center says “The actual first place that knew was New Orleans. The military edict was actually announced and pronounced right at Congo Square with an audience of about 600 formerly enlslaved who came and gathered at that space to hear the reading of the edict and that the war was over and that enslavement had ended so to think that it took 2 years for word to travel from New Orleans and then all the way around the world to Texas is a compelling story.”
Juneteenth is now officially a federal, state, and local holiday and some say that the holiday itself paints a more complete picture of our nation’s history.
Culture Bearer Diane Honore’ explained, “It’s extremely important to tell the whole story and to balance the narrative because this is all American history. It’s not just Black history. We named it that but it’s all of our history and it’s very important that people know the truth.”
A portion of that truth includes the modern day racial reckoning of what happened and how we’ve all been impacted.
“We gravitate towards the 4th of July, not really recognizing that that independence did not grant us independence. As Fredrick Douglass said in his famous speech, ‘What to the American slave is your 4th of July?’ Which says right there that slavery was still happening,” said Vera Warren-Williams of Community Book Center.
In many ways Juneteenth is also an opportunity to show pride in the strength of a people.
Drummer and Culture Bearer Luther Gray stated, “Our people have endure so much and where at a portal in time right now where the pace of change is accelerating and we’re looking for more equity on the planet and in our society, of course in the United States so that makes Juneteenth so important, not only in the past but in the present.”