Community members in Jacksonville share the meaning of Juneteenth to them

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Communities across the country took time to recognize African American freedom and achievement in observance of Juneteenth.

The federal holiday marks a significant moment in American history when hundreds of thousands of slaves were freed. The holiday is meaningful and dear to one Jacksonville resident.

“Growing up as an African American male,” said Sebastian Neely. “It means so much coming from ancestors that persevered and endured everything to get to where are now.”

People across the country got the day off, but it is more than just time away from work. The holiday is when American history changed forever.

“On the car ride here, I was talking to the kids about what Juneteenth is,” said Allison Farrior, a Jacksonville resident. “They weren’t super familiar with it, so it opened up a cool conversation with the kids about the history behind Juneteenth,”

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, more than 250,000 slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that they were free on June 19, 1865. That day their lives changed, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America.

“We would really miss an opportunity to learn from people,” said Farrior. “From different backgrounds and different ways of thinking. We have grown a lot as people because of all the different people there are in the world.”

Making that change happen and stay for future generations is an idea Neely wants to continue, “Us in this generation,” said Neely. “We can fight even harder for upcoming generations to come through.”

Juneteenth was made a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.