Juneteenth is a powerful holiday. Remembering the emancipation of slaves in the Deep South, it is a celebration of freedom, love, and personal power that is indescribable. Last month’s Juneteenth parade, a city-wide expression of pride, brought together the Black community in a display of cultural recognition and social dialogue. Without the phenomenal work of Juneteenth Inc., the festival would not have touched as many hearts as it did.
Juneteenth, Inc. is an organization that recognizes the power of community, and how the history of emancipation connects members of the Black community together in unprecedented ways. As Ruthnie Angrand explained, “While Juneteenth has become the most prominent Emancipation Day holiday in the US, it commemorates the physical realization of freedom and not the legal application of it,” she said. “It doesn’t mark the signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which technically freed slaves in the rebelling Confederate states, nor does it commemorate the December 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment, which enshrined the end of slavery into the Constitution.”
“Instead, it marks the moment when emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy.”
Angrand and the organization. wanted to commemorate the holiday, while also serving the Black community through dialogue and experiential connection. Juneteenth, Inc. connected with local Black business owners and creators to have the opportunity to meet and share with one another, while also highlighting a drumming workshop, cultural dinner, and a Miss Juneteenth pageant. In addition, the cultural programming at the festival was designed specifically to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds and present a holistic understanding of the Black experience.
When asked what Black Equity and Excellence meant to her, she had this to say: “[It] means that our organization has an obligation and responsibility to serve the Black community in a way that sets a precedent for all service providers,” she said. “It reminds us that at our best, Black Excellence is centering Black people and seeing them as humans with limitless capabilities as we see others.”
While Juneteenth is a celebration, it is also a way for the community to reckon with the senseless acts of violence that continue to be perpetrated against the Black community. As Angrand explains, “In Juneteenth, there is evidence and a lesson in the need for applied freedom to supersede both policies and sentiments around equity. It’s a lesson that is medicinal to our world post-COVID and George Floyd.”
The Juneteenth parade also featured numerous participants, including a drum line, dance team, and historically Black sororities. The Central New York Community Foundation was in attendance, and we used the platform to promote our Black Equity and Excellence Fund. Juneteenth Inc. received $2,500 from this very fund, and the proceeds were used to bring people together with connection, understanding, and pride.
Juneteenth Inc. created a phenomenal gathering for for the Black community of Central New York and we are proud to have assisted them in their work.