In earlier years it was called June Nineteenth and over the course of time was shortened to become Juneteenth a celebration of the formal abolishment of slavery that took place in Galveston, TX, June 19, 1865. With President Joe Biden signing legislation establishing Juneteenth as a U.S. federal holiday, and Governor Sununu recently signing a bill declaring Juneteenth a state holiday, supporters find further validation to amplify and honor Black ancestry.
Manchester NH celebrates the value of black life with its second annual Juneteenth celebration with co-director of the Manchester Juneteenth Block Party, Benjamin Pasley.
CC: What in particular would you like the community to take away from this year’s celebration?
One thing I would like the community to take away from this year’s celebration is that this isn’t a trend. This isn’t a political stunt or grab to attract a certain demographic, this is a celebration – to celebrate freedom that wasn’t given to us. This is a celebration for people of color, not to exclude any else but the mentality is Black first when in so many areas in life we aren’t.
CC: How were you introduced to the holiday and what does Juneteenth mean to you?
I was introduced to the holiday by self-education. Last year during the Aubrey Graham and George Floyd murders, a fire of self-discovery, black history, an understanding of who we are as a people and justice ignited and I’ve been feeding the flame ever since. That’s what led me to discover Juneteenth. Juneteenth means to me what Independence Day means to Americans. Yes, I am an American but I am an African-American and Juneteenth resonates with me more as when my ancestors were freed from slavery.
CC: What suggestions could you share about how to respectfully observe Juneteenth?
To be completely honest, I believe this is a day for white people to just observe, respectfully. No questions, no what does this mean, no advice, no explanations … if you want to join in celebration just enjoy being in the presence of your black friends and acquaintances and celebrate their joy from this day.