More Than 150 Years Later, Many Seek to Keep Juneteenth Relevant

Editor's note June 19, 2019 — This story was originally published in 2017. We are republishing it because history of Juneteenth continues to be important to share. Eleven-year-old Dirrell Osteen's two-word question to his father was cloaked in innocence. "June what?" he asked Shannon Osteen, 45, as the Oak Cliff youth leaned up from a red beanbag chair at the Martin Luther King Community Center branch library in South Dallas."Juneteenth," replied the man, smiling at his son. After a few minutes of questioning by his dad, Dirrell eventually recalled the 152-year-old holiday and the festival-like celebrations that often accompany it."For celebrating and eating food and stuff?" the boy finally replied. "As long as there's food, you got his attention," Shannon Osteen said.Dirrell isn't alone. Community leaders and activists say that many young people often don't know or fully understand the African-American heritage and historical significance that Juneteenth represents. To many of them, the holiday has simply come to mean a day of food and fun. But to generations of older African-Americans, Juneteenth — celebrated on June 19 — means much more than that. It's about family and freedom. To them, it will never lose its relevance.  Continue reading...

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