Our View: Let’s All Celebrate Juneteenth

by The Cape Cod Chronicle

For many of us, Juneteenth was a brief mention in high school history class which then went forgotten until it became a public holiday last year. It’s time to think about it again.

June 19 is Juneteenth National Independence Day, the day that recognizes the end of slavery in the United States. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the righting of an unspeakable moral wrong. But slavery can’t be an unspeakable part of our national history. It’s important to reflect on that dark chapter and to come together to truly celebrate its end and the people who made that happen. It should be a jubilee with music, food, laughter — and learning.

That’s exactly how Brewster celebrated it last week, with a party at Drummer Boy Park. The festive event was the first of its kind in the region, and we’re proud of the town and various partner groups for organizing it. We hope it’s the start of a long tradition that’s replicated in Chatham, Harwich, Orleans and beyond.

Is there irony that the Juneteenth celebration was attended almost exclusively by white people? Yes. There’s no escaping that the Lower Cape is very white, demographically. All the more reason to use Juneteenth as an opportunity for education and reflection about how slavery shaped us as a society and as communities. It is possible to celebrate Juneteenth without ignoring the long road ahead toward racial justice.

And that’s exactly what we should do.