By David C. Okonkwo
RIVERSIDE—Juneteenth was the day African slave workers gained their freedom officially from slavery. As you remember, slavery was the center of the Civil War between the North and South. It was a time the slaves sang about in their “negro spirituals.” Songs like “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” giving them hope while they bore their daily agony in life.
And so even when the day finally came, it was delayed over a year in the South because the slaves had no access to news/information that it had come to pass. An army general and his company had to take the order to the South and read it on the southern land of Galveston, making it official in the South. So, in a sense, it was the gain of their own dignity of humanness, something so sacred and yet taken for granted because it just happens. Something that still happens today under our own very eyes!
And looking at the state of humankind today, some people are still seen as less than. So, we use the opportunity of Juneteenth to lift up the spirit of all peoples who are downtrodden for whatever reason. We use the opportunity to educate from and in different spheres of life and culture. Working ecumenically with several community NGOs, local churches, and support of different city departments, we will be celebrating on June 15th, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Ann Sherrill’s Park on California and Baseline in the west end area of the City of San Bernardino. Come, support local vendors and have a cool evening enjoyment with your family; with a touch of jazz from the saxophone and a bit of soul music. Come one, come all!
David C. Okonkwo is the Director of the Diocesan Ministry to Catholic of African Descent.