Friday, June 19, 2020, will be remembered as a milestone in cities across the United States, including Monrovia.
Approximately 400 people attended the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration at Station Square Park early Friday evening.
Poetry, music and voter registration tables garnered a lot of activity, according to organizers who were hoping to inspire young people to register for this significant and important November election.
The people who attended the inaugural event came from all walks of life, ages and ethnicity. One man’s young daughter sported a t-shirt which read “Say it loud. I’m Black Cambodian and I’m proud.” while she danced to the music. The slogan harks back to the chant so familiar in the 1960s and ‘70s when “Say it loud. I’m Black and I’m proud.” became an anthem for justice for Black people in America. The mantra dates back to the late James Brown’s song, released in August 1968 — a mere few months after Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. was assassinated at the height of the civil rights movement.
While many in the audience last Friday were too young to have lived during the Black Power movement in the 1960s, the elders who attended recognized the deeply profound significance the 1960s had on all of us in the United States and how far we have come and yet still need to go.
With a decidedly different feeling to the recent weeks of protests and peaceful civil disobedience, Juneteenth in Monrovia evoked positivity and peace at a time when we perhaps need it most. The dancing and general air of good will was self-evident in the powerful performances of the musicians and speakers. There was no anger, just anticipation that we might become less divided as a nation, perhaps respect and revere our differences.
Those in attendance Friday evening included Councilman Larry Spicer and former School Board Member Terrence Williams who were delighted with the turnout of so many people. “It’s wonderful to see so many ages and different backgrounds … the weather is perfect.” said Spicer.
At such a crucial time in America’s history, it was evident Friday that love is, without doubt, a very powerful force.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans in Confederate states learned they were free 155 years ago. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, slaves were still held captive in Texas until the end of the war. Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery, in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
Monrovia City Councilmembers have requested that staff prepare a report to recognize Juneteenth (June 19) as an official city holiday. Many, like Councilwoman Gloria Crudginton, believe that Juneteenth should be an official National holiday.
“I think it is far more important that Columbus Day,” Crudgington said.
“2020 may be the year it reaches a new decisive moment of epoch-making recognition,” the Associated Press reported last Friday.