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Celebrating and understanding Juneteenth

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 17:47:33-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.

"The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January first, 1863. And that established that all enslaved people in the confederate states that were in rebellion against the union will be free," said Peggy Brooks Bertram, co-founder of Uncrowned Queens.

But the freedom that so many longed for did not happen instantaneously.

"Between 1863 and 1865 they didn't even tell these slaves that they had been freed. And part of it had to do with the fact that they wanted to continue to get these slaves to take care of the harvest," said Bertram.

Murray Holman, a Juneteenth Board Member, said it's important that this piece of history is taught and understood.

"It's important to all communities that we push the history out to the community for our children and our elders to understand that there is a story that needs to be told. A correct way of the story being told," said Holman.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order this week recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees.

There's now a push to make it a national holiday.

"I mean it's overdue, you know it's definitely overdue. We only got Martin Luther King Day, and now to have another day of us unified," said Holman.

Holman said he hopes anytime someone mentions the month June, they automatically think of Juneteenth.