SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s not only Father’s Day, but it’s also Juneteenth, a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans here in the US on June 19th, 1865.
Juneteenth, the holiday holds significant meaning for African Americans nationwide and right here in western Massachusetts.
Pharaoh Bacon from Springfield told 22News, “Juneteenth means to me, it’s pride. I love the pride that we have for African Americans and Indigenous People. It feels good to actually get celebrated.”
It is consider the longest running African American holiday, and has been observed with celebrations like the one right here in Springfield.
Springfield City Councilor Tracye Whitfield told 22News, “Juneteenth means freedom to me. Because even in 1776, we weren’t free. Fourth of July, it’s great. We celebrate it. But it wasn’t our freedom. Juneteenth is our freedom.”
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans here in the US. It’s also a day for many to celebrate African American culture and emphasize education and achievement.
Juneteenth this year also falling on Father’s Day, making this day even more special to honor fathers.
“Being a Black father means so much,” said Jimmy Mitchell, a member of the Juneteenth Committee. “Thank god today is Father’s Day, and I am happy to be a father.”
And to celebrate Black and Brown Excellence.
“Black excellence is that we rise to the top on a lot of occasions,” Councilor Whitfield said. “Even when we have things stacked against us, we still continue to strive and push through and push forward.”
Some fathers telling 22News they want to share the story and celebrations of Juneteenth with their kids.
“I am a father of four kids,” Bacon said. “I love all of my kids. I love the fact that they can see the community coming together, and they can see that people are supporting the culture and history.”
And others hoping the message will reach to more generations to come.
“They don’t teach this in school about Juneteenth,” said Whitfield. “So the parents have to educate their kids. Grandparents, Great Grandparents, they taught me a lot about it and I am so happy to have that knowledge of what Juneteenth really means. Freedom.”