RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Johnny Hill, Dean of Divinity at Shaw University, said Juneteenth wasn’t something he learned about growing up.
“I didn’t become aware of Juneteenth until I attended college at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia,” Hill said.
For Advance Community Health CEO Scot McCray, early knowledge about it was different.
“I think Juneteenth, for years, has been forgotten. I grew up in a community where it was celebrated,” McCray said.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Confederate Soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19 when Union Soldiers brought the news to Galveston, Texas.
That was about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“So, the experiences of enslaved Africans are a part of my journey,” Hill said.
Congress passed a bill that would make Juneteenth a national holiday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
According to CBS News, a Gallup Poll this week reveals that 35 percent of Americans support Juneteenth as a national holiday.
One in four said that they do not support it. Another 40 percent said they are unsure or unfamiliar with it.
It also shows 12 percent having “a lot” of knowledge about it, while a quarter of Americans have “some” understanding. The poll also reveals 28 percent said they know nothing at all.
“We are still seeing a historical legacy and problem of coming to grips with our past,” Hill said.
Advance Community Health is using the day to help get people the vaccine while educating them about Juneteenth. McCray said the goal is to make sure people who are underserved get access to the vaccine.
“When I think, when you talk about two fronts of emancipation and education and now health equity, those two things really, really connect,” McCray said.
Advance Community Health’s Soul Food Family Reunion Juneteenth Celebration is Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Roberts Park Community Center in Raleigh.
Click here for more information on Juneteenth celebrations happening in the Triangle.