What Juneteenth Means to ME...

Amy Dement
Amy Dement

Content Marketing Coordinator, PSS. With 10 years of experience in early childhood education, Amy has gained a unique perspective on the education community. She is dedicated to helping create meaningful and effective learning experiences.


I've been celebrating July Fourth for as long as I can remember, but I only really learned about Juneteenth last year.  Why did it take so long for some of us to find out about Juneteenth?

If you had never heard of Juneteenth before this year, you wouldn’t be alone.

I grew up in upstate New York, just north of Rochester. My family moved to North Carolina when I was 11. So why is it, that the stories that I can remember learning about in school seem completely different, concerning the civil war, from what I learned in the south?  Even more so, why didn't we learn about Juneteenth? If I did, why don't I remember? Did the school system not encourage educators that this was a subject worth making sure that students comprehended?

For those of you not aware, Juneteenth is a combination of June and nineteenth, the day in 1865 when many slaves in Texas learned they were free. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, federal troops had to be sent on June 19, 1865, to tell slaves in Galveston, Texas, of their freedom and that this news had been kept from them.

Right now, America is changing FASTER than ever.

While this holiday is not yet designated as a federal holiday, 47 states recognize it as a state holiday,  it has risen dramatically in prominence considering the recent Black Lives Matter protests. It's an unfortunate truth that many Americans are just now becoming aware of the holiday.

Americans of all races and ethnicities are now publicly stepping up in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  Countries around the world are also standing up with us to protest what should be basic human rights. With the outpour of demand for education and reform, has also come a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom and condemns oppression — Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, or Black Independence Day.

So how can I, as a white woman, commemorate Juneteenth?

  1. Learning
  2. Listening
  3. Celebrating

Learning about Juneteenth and appreciating its significance will help me create awareness for those around me.  Listening to my friends, co-workers, people on social media sharing stories of situations they have been through in their lives that I have not experienced. I may have no idea how they felt to be discriminated against just because of the color of their skin, but I CAN empathize and grow my social awareness. Everyone has had different experiences in life. Lastly, I can Celebrate those around me and support them.

Our company is now evolving.

2020 has opened our eyes to many things that need to change, improve, and grow. I, for one, am excited about being involved in the future of this company. The opportunity to be involved in a forward-thinking company that can contribute so much value in helping future generations (including my own 2 school-age children) to grow in their social-emotional learning, appreciation of others,  and acceptance of those around them.

This company is taking steps in the right direction. We were given Friday, Juneteenth, off as a day to reflect and celebrate the Holiday.

We received this message from the company, and I would also like to encourage YOU to Learn, Listen, and Celebrate this Juneteenth.

Recent confrontations with police have sparked a national conversation. Those deadly confrontations highlight severe injustices. Injustices that have been long known (by some) and tolerated (by most). As someone who loves the ideals of the Constitution, I invite you to read the Declaration and the Preamble to the Constitution. A firm reading of those documents will only highlight why injustice to any population is especially antithetical to our country’s founding principles. (Aside: Some people avoid reading certain pieces of history because it is painful. I find history to be extremely informative. It’s full of life secrets. I ensure you that when you have a tough decision ahead of you, there is a piece of history that can provide an anchor. If I’ve made good decisions in life it’s because I’ve found patterns in history that inform my view of the future. It’s a reading of what actually happened.)~Ahron Oddman

What is Juneteenth??

Federate Causes (each state explains why it left the Union)

Declaration of Independence