Dear friend,

As a little girl, I remember my mother getting dressed up every year and going to a Juneteenth celebration. She talked about it with excitement and told me it was a special holiday for black people. She would come back and tell me about the fun they had, the good food, the music, the fellowship, the speeches and the poetry. I didn’t really understand back then the true meaning, but I knew from her excitement that it was a special and significant event.

As I grew older, I began to understand the true significance of Juneteenth, and I would ask questions like, “why did the people hear about Freedom so late?”, and “did they get mad because they found out so late?” My parents would do their best to answer my questions. They always said “Thank God for Juneteenth”.

As an adult, I have attended countless Juneteenth celebrations with friends and family. Those celebrations still include fun, food, music, fellowship and speeches. Steeped in African-American culture, Juneteenth is probably the oldest holiday much like Independence Day. History tells us that the Emancipation Proclamation under President Abraham Lincoln was declared on January 1, 1863.  On June 19,1865 the Union soldiers came to Galveston, Texas to let African-Americans know that the war was over and they were free from slavery.  It took 2 ½ years before they got the word of their freedom. I can only imagine what that day must have felt like…full of joy and jubilation!

Over the years, the popularity of Juneteenth has increased and many organizations and businesses are acknowledging this special day in American history. It makes me happy to think about the excitement it has generated in my family down through the years. And I hope we can continue the traditional gathering even if it is virtually, to reflect, renew and re-ignite towards action.

We can all learn from the past and aspire to do better in the future, honoring the message of the Emancipation Proclamation and the spirit of Juneteenth.

Aspiring for a better future with you,

Andrea Bond Johnson
Democratic Candidate Tennessee House District 82

PS- Yesterday, TNDP Chairwoman Mary Mancini interviewed Andrea. Check it out.