Reflections on the Meaning of Juneteenth

By Neanta Parnell

On June 18th, Inner Strength will be attending the Juneteenth Parade and Festival, an event celebrating all that is Black and beautiful. Juneteenth celebrates the ending of slavery within the United States. Although Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it wasn’t until 1865 that Union soldiers’ message of freedom made it to the southernmost regions of the Americas. Additionally, the proclamation did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union until the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished chattel slavery throughout the nation in 1865.

In my experience as a member of the Black community, the 21st century marks the beginning of a new version of slavery: forced labor within prisons. “From the moment they enter the prison gates, incarcerated people lose the right to refuse to work. This is because the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects against slavery and involuntary servitude, explicitly excludes from its reach those held in confinement due to a criminal conviction.” – aclu.org

For me, Juneteenth is a reminder that the fight against slavery and injustice is not finished. The abolishment of chattel slavery was the beginning of a new, more covert form of slavery, discrimination, and human rights violations. These injustices permeate society so inconspicuously that some of us accept them as normal, whether intentional or not.

On Juneteenth, I rest, reflect, and educate. The 1619 Project has been my reflective muse for a year now. It is an anthology of essays curated by the New York Times and Nicole Hanna-Jones that asserts America was birthed by the labor, innovation, and culture of Black people. The book also examines the institutions in place that remove and/or reduce the impact of Black people within American history.

An impactful quote from the book:

“While history is what happened, it is also, just as important, how we think about what happened and what we unearth and choose to remember about what happened”

― Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project: A New American Origin Story

This quote emphasizes the importance of accountability and being mindful of the impact of ignoring our past and the choices we make today that impact the next generation. I often journal on quotations from this book and reflect on how I show up for myself as a Black woman.

I choose to show up for myself by choosing to cultivate my own happiness in life, speaking up against injustice, and working diligently to re-educate myself on my history and culture, which is Black and beautiful.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to our newsletter

Follow Us

More Articles

In Student’s Own Words . . .

by Amelia Mraz At the end of each 12-week mindfulness course, we ask students to take a survey about their experience with the class. While

Scroll to Top