Syracuse Celebrates Juneteenth Syracuse Celebrates Juneteenth

REBECCA CLYDE: June 19th, otherwise known as the holiday Juneteenth, kicks off tomorrow. I got to speak to a few residents about how they’re celebrating. Juneteenth is kicking off it’s fourth year as a federal holiday, the most recent holiday to be recognized. Though it’s now nationally accredited, people from Syracuse and beyond have been celebrating for decades. Khaliah Major has been working hard to spread awareness to Doctor King elementary students.

KHALIAH MAJOR: It’s just a revolutionary feeling. Like, oh, we were slaves and now we’re not anymore. And how does that thinking change? And I just thought that it was just so important for our kids to understand we didn’t just wake up and got to go to school wherever we wanted to, or we didn’t get to wake up and just go to the store because we wanted to.

REBECCA CLYDE: The historical day recognizes the last slaves to be freed in Texas. Major says although the holiday has roots in Texas, the fight for freedom is strongly embedded in Syracuse. She says Syracuse locations like this one were used as a safe house during the underground railroad. Across town in Jamesville-Dewitt, Brie Hall is preparing for another Juneteenth celebration. Hall is planning an event at Jamesville town hall complete with a flag raising, local vendors and live music.

BRIE HALL: Next year we should look into doing something for Juneteenth. I was like, I’ll do it this year. I guess I look at it because I have four children and they are biracial, as am I. So, it’s kind of showing them that the future is brighter like you can get better.

REBECCA CLYDE: Resident Jesus Knowles Carter thinks it’s important to recognize what his ancestors went through.

JESUS CARTER: With them making the distance between New Orleans to the east coast, to Syracuse, New York. How are you going to make that migration with black skin? When freedom was just outlawed two years ago.

REBECCA CLYDE: Although a new holiday, Juneteenth is widely recognized as a second Independence Day. If you want to join honoring this history tomorrow, Jamesville’s Juneteenth Day is happening from 12 to 6.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Tomorrow marks the fourth year since Juneteenth became a federal holiday, the most recent addition to the nation’s calendar. While its national recognition is recent, communities like Syracuse have been celebrating this historic day for decades.

Khaliah Major, a program aide at the Syracuse City School District, has been instrumental in educating elementary students about Juneteenth. Reflecting on its significance, she emphasized its transformative message.

“It’s just a revolutionary feeling. Like, oh, we were slaves and now we’re not anymore,” Major said.

Major stresses the importance of understanding the journey from slavery to freedom, a journey that resonates deeply in Syracuse, known for its role in the Underground Railroad.

Across town in Jamesville-DeWitt, Brie Hall is organizing a Juneteenth celebration at the town hall, featuring a flag-raising ceremony, local vendors and live music. 

Long-time Syracuse resident Jesus Carter said education and communication about these topics are important for the community to thrive.

“There’s been like one or two issues in my personal neighborhood that we’ve gotten through just with communication, and it has allowed us to grow and blossom and spread our resources in a more, communistic way,” said Carter about the community spirit that Juneteenth inspires.

As the nation prepares to honor the day slaves in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom, Syracuse and its residents continue to embrace Juneteenth as a time to celebrate resilience, unity and progress.

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