HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - June 19, or Juneteenth as it’s called, is a day to commemorate the end of slavery in America, and this year, the day has gained more national attention than perhaps ever before.
Many top companies like Nike and Twitter have made the move to recognize the day as a national holiday. It’s a decision that Reverend Maurice Wright of St. John AME Church in Huntsville supports, but with caution.
“I would like to see Juneteenth as a national holiday as another commemoration of the journey of African Americans,” says Wright. “I don’t want to see it become what President’s Day has become, what other holidays that have significance become… It’s not a day of barbecue. It’s not a day where we have Juneteenth sales, but it should be a commemoration of a journey.”
Wright says the day’s celebration should include service projects and educational programs so that people continue to remember the significance of June 19.
Still, he says it’s a day that deserves to be celebrated nationwide, especially in today’s political climate.
“It’s a tough time for us,” says Wright. “What’s going on in America right now, we need something to celebrate. And the irony of it is, is while Juneteenth is a celebration of our freedom, if you really look at what’s taking place… We’re not in chains on master’s plantation, but the question is… ‘Are we really free?’”
While Wright says there is still work to do in the fight for social equity, he hopes recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday is a step in the right direction.
“We are still fighting ultimately for freedom,” says Wright. “So, if this – making Juneteenth a national holiday – if this brings awareness, if this brings education, if this allows us to tell our story, and people have an opportunity to see how far we still have to go, I’m all for it.”