Juneteenth: A powerful reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go

By Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of political science June 19, 2023

Graphic with yellow, red, black and green swatches of color and reads Juneteenth Freedom Day

It’s been 30 years since the federal government recognized a new national holiday. It’s poignant that 30 years after President Ronald Reagan signed the bill designating the third Monday in January as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, we now recognize Juneteenth.

Both occasions serve as powerful reminders of just how far we have come as a nation, and how far we still must go.

Juneteenth provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the many people, communities, and movements who both define and protect key tenets of freedom, citizenship, and democracy. That includes recognizing how the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments enshrined the most basic rights of citizenship at a time where the U.S. struggled to determine who she wanted to be.

And now in 2023, that vision is just as significant. Juneteenth isn't just a holiday. It is an occasion for reflection, renewal, and recommitment.

Not just for some of us, but all of us. As Opal Lee, the grandmother of Juneteenth once stated: None of us is free till we all are free. 

To learn more about the legacies of Juneteenth, listen to this episode of the Disrupted radio show and podcast hosted by Khalilah Brown-Dean for Connecticut Public Radio. Listen online or via your favorite podcast platform

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