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Younger adults react to Juneteenth, explain learning of it later in life

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Posted at 4:41 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 16:41:14-04

This Friday marks the 155th celebration of "Juneteenth," an unofficial U.S. holiday that many states are working to make official, including Virginia.

This landmark date represents the day that the last slaves were emancipated from the Confederacy on June 19, 1865.

Unlike Independence Day, this holiday is not always widely known, even among black people.

“I learned about it in my freshman year of high school and that is only because I moved to Texas (this was the state where the last slaves were emancipated from the Confederacy),” Nakylah Carter, 19, a rising Sophomore at N.C. A&T said. “I know a lot of freshmen here at N.C. A&T did not know about it until we learned about it in our African-American history class.

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order by President Abraham Lincoln that announced the emancipation of slaves.

The order went into effect on January 1, 1863, but there were not many Union generals in Texas at the time so the slaves there had no way of knowing that they were already free, according to juneteenth.com.

Juneteenth is getting extra buzz this year coming on the heels of multiple deaths of black people by the police.

When asked why the school system does not frequently teach about things such as Juneteenth, Carter believes it is not uncommon for school systems to withhold information about black history.

“Black people have been oppressed for so long, it is not uncommon for the school system to omit parts of black history because it is not like we know or knew about it anyway,” Carter said. “A lot of our history was lost in slavery."

Adrian Hairston, 23, is a language arts middle school teacher in Charlotte, NC, who said that he did not learn about Juneteenth until after high school on social media.

“I did not really find out about it until after high school and I only found out about it because I was on Instagram and then after that, I looked into it,” Hairston said. “It was an eye-opener. You do not hear anything about it.”

Hairston was also asked if schools across the nation should implement Juneteenth into the curriculum as well as informing their peers among their administration.

“Of course,” Hairston said with little hesitation. “Anytime I find something regarding black history I always try to expose it to my students. I always throw hidden gems. If I teach the civil rights era that will be something I mention to my students. All teachers should [implement Juneteenth in their curriculum] and we should teach our peers as well if they do not know.”

Lastly, Hairston stated he never was a big fan of Independence Day and said this is all the more reason for him to no longer celebrate the mid-summer holiday.

“I never really celebrated [Independence Day] because I have always been woke so to speak. I definitely will not be celebrating it, Juneteenth will always be my Independence day.”