What Juneteenth Means To Texans In 2020

Black Texans reflect on the day enslaved people learned they were free. 155 years later, they say there’s still work to do.

By Kristen CabreraJune 19, 2020 11:25 am, ,

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“Juneteenth to me means a combination of celebrating new beginnings, while remembering the victories and struggles of our past. And how anything is possible.”

– Yalakesen Baaheth, student activist

“This is not a celebration. It’s more a recognition, or an honoring, or an embracing. We can’t ignore as a nation, the continuing ramifications of the brutal institution of slavery.”

– Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University

A mural in Austin commemorating George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin.

“Do the work. It is important to strategize, advocate, agitate, get with our elected leaders and force a change. This cannot continue to happen and Juneteenth is the perfect time to commit to doing those things.”

– Alisa Simmons, president of the Arlington chapter of the NAACP

“I don’t live in fear. I live in knowledge. And once you do that, you can have joy, you can second-line, you can electric slide. You can electric slide in front of, behind and through the racists.”

– Tonya Pennie, founder and director of Dance Africa Fest in Austin

“It looks like black lives matter in this moment, in the public. But then, in private, do black lives really matter to people. What are people really going to do?”

–  Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Alisa Simmons’s NAACP chapter.

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