Local museum welcomes newfound awareness of Juneteenth holiday
DONALDSONVILLE - The nationwide protests against police brutality have brought renewed attention to Juneteenth.
At the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville, tourists can take a trip down memory lane to learn the history behind the holiday.
"The museum just has the most amazing history," Chancely Courson said.
"African Americans are not the only group of people that should know the history of Juneteenth and the plight of the American struggle for African Americans, but all Americans should know the history of Juneteenth," museum visitor Tyson Lee said.
Juneteenth is an important milestone in the struggle toward freedom for all. It also marks the first day the museum has opened its doors since the coronavirus shutdown started in March.
"It's really exciting to have our doors open again even with the social distancing. Our museum has struggled from the beginning with how we're going to keep our doors open, and we've been able to do it for 25 years, even though COVID-19," Museum Director Darrell Hambrick said.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865 union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the civil war was over and those enslaved were free. Word didn't spread to enslaved people in Texas until two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The celebration of the slaves' newly found freedom is still celebrated today in communities across the country.
"The most important thing is that we learn the history and understand why it was so important to the Africans to learn about freedom. Texas was the first place to celebrate it, and here we are in Louisana and all over the world celebrating Juneteenth," Hambrick said.
Hambrick challenges families not just to celebrate, but to educate themselves about a pivotal point in black history.
"Juneteenth and black history has always mattered to our organization. We're just so excited that the world has now tuned into it and realized that not only do black lives matter but the history of black lives really matters," Hambrick said.
Juneteenth is not yet a national holiday, but it is recognized as a state holiday, or considered a special day, in 47 states.