JOPLIN, Mo. — Across the country today, people are coming together to celebrate Juneteenth.
It’s the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery.
Jordan Burton, Joplin Native, said, “Juneteenth is essentially the celebration of the ratification of the 13th Amendment which freed the slaves.”
Enslaved Africans in Texas were the last to find out, 2-and-a half years after the emancipation proclamation.
“They had about a quarter-million slaves and they found out on June 19th in 1865. And that’s why nationally, we celebrate it as well because they’re technically the last people, the last state to find out.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery.
“For us in Joplin, we actually celebrate August 4th and again that’s just because of the different times people found out.”
An experience, Mr. Sol Fowler remembers vividly.
Sol Fowler, Joplin Resident, said, “Back in the 50’s when I was coming up down there at the park we had a celebration.”
The 87-year-old says it was a time people came together.
“Black people really enjoyed themselves and the white people came down and they couldn’t wait for us to have a celebration because they liked the barbecue and stuff.”
Now there’s a growing interest in Juneteenth.
“There’s so many people talking about it, it’s trending on twitter and you have a lot of people really exciting about what’s going on,” said Burton.
“I think it’s so important because it’s so many things that we have done back then that the people nowadays don’t know about,” said Fowler.
“People of all colors and walks of life are truly trying to educate themselves on issues systemic and systematic oppression and one of those things is kind of understanding the black plight and the best way to do that is to understand a holiday like Juneteenth,” said Burton.
Burton says the day is bittersweet.
“Because at the end of the day, slavery is still legal if you’re a prisoner in this country and we see that federally and with privatized prisons that profit off of people being incarcerated. And so I think that’s why I kind of struggle with the day because America is notorious for using it’s prisoners as slave labor essentially slavery never ended, it was renamed.”