Houston, Texas (KTRK) – The June holiday signifies pride, celebration and heritage for many people. But it’s also a time when there are difficult conversations about the ongoing fight for diversity, equality, and inclusion.
While there is much gratitude and appreciation for the progress that has been made in the area of civil rights, some say there is still much work to be done.
Related: How People Came to Celebrate Juneteenth in the United States
Valerie Newsom Garcia was visiting from Atlanta for Father’s Day weekend with her dad in Richardson. She used this opportunity to take her little daughter to the Emancipation Garden on the morning of Juneteenth.
“I wanted to bring my daughter here so she could experience this holiday that is meaningful to her Texas roots and, in general, being black in America,” Garcia said.
Garcia and her father, Earl Newsom III, find themselves engaged in difficult but insightful conversations with strangers in the park.
Lee Perry, who lives in the Fifth Ward, shared his mixed feelings about the holiday. Having worked in the oil and gas industry for more than 50 years and having to find original owners of tracts of land, he says it’s shocking how many people don’t know where their ancestors lived.
“It means something different to everyone. What (Juneteenth) means to me is that right now, we don’t know our own history. We don’t know our real history. We don’t know our real history,” Perry said.
Related: Juneteenth: The oldest known ceremony commemorating the end of slavery in the United States
With all the controversy raging across the country over banned books and the exclusion of pieces of miscellaneous history in school curricula, Newsom and his daughter think it’s up to parents to take matters into their own hands.
“If the government doesn’t put that in the school curriculum, do as my parents did. Your parents and grandparents need to talk to their kids because they can’t stop what you tell them at home. They can’t stop what they pick up on the Internet. That’s our role,” Newsom said.
“Whatever banned books are, go get them and put them in your personal library if they are not in your school’s library,” García said.
Forty-eight miles southwest of Bates Allen Park in Kendleton, similar topics were being discussed by members of the community at a Juneteen-Fort Bend County celebration.
Jazz Roberts and his family drove from Richmond to enjoy the festivities. He told ABC13 that he would like to see more black history taught, discussed and celebrated after Juneteenth and Black History Month in February.
He would also like to see more companies give their employees the day off to properly celebrate, research and learn about the holiday.
“I couldn’t go to the bank today and do business because it was closed for a federal holiday. If the banks acknowledge that, everyone should acknowledge that across the board,” Roberts said.
Related: What’s open, what’s closed on Juneteenth
Jeremy Harris, who was visiting the area from Austin, said he didn’t know about recess at the school. When his parents began to bring him to the events of Juneteenth, the 18-year-old understood the deeper meaning of the historical one.
He said, “When some of my friends talked about Juneteenth, it was just barbecue, music and dancing. I think it’s important for us to also learn about the struggle and what we need to do to make our voice stronger.”
His father, FL Harris, believes the best way to move forward and work for change is to get more people to the polls.
“We had to vote and fight in the voting booths. It’s fine to march and everything. But if you’re not going to vote, it’s all being done for nothing. We have to let the politicians and everybody know we’re still here,” Harris said.
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