MSU Today with Russ White

On Saturday, June 19, 2021, Michigan State University will host a university wide and in person celebration of Juneteenth to commemorate the freeing of African American slaves in the U.S. The week-long celebration includes virtual film screenings, panel discussions and webinars that will lead up to the in-person event.

Show Notes

In this edition of the MSU Today podcast, four MSU scholars discuss the sustained significance and impact of Juneteenth.

“I am not one who grew up participating in or knowing about Juneteenth,” says Dr. Tamura Lomax (she/her), Foundational Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS). “I didn't learn about it until sometime in high school in California. I lived my life between California and New York. And I'd never heard about it in New York, but in California I remember hearing something about it but not really understanding what it is.”

Lomax explains what she means when, as a historian, she says the thing about Juneteenth that strikes her is the multiple attempts at freedom.

“What's important to me is that, yes, Juneteenth is a celebration, but there's still this delayed sense of gratification in terms of freedom. So that's what's important to me in terms of my work, in terms of noting that. And noting how Black folks free and enslaved have been forced to navigate, this idea of freedom while living a life that is truly within a context of unfreedom.”

Dr. Shondra L Marshall (she/her) is a national president of MSU Black Alumni.

“I would like to salute the student body and all the excellent and phenomenal work they’re doing at MSU. We push, and we move forward. MSU Black Alumni was officially founded in 1980. Under my administration, I have elevated three areas of organizational focus. They are engagement, enhancement, and evolvement. We have an endowment which includes several named endowments at the institution. And that actually was started off at one of our first homecoming events in October of 1980. At that event, they passed around a pumpkin and they raised money, which included $1000 to earmark our endowment at the institution. And today we have over $2.5 million in endowments.

“When I think about freedom to liberation, how is MSUBA helping the institution get to liberation? Are we holding the institution accountable and looking at every policy, practice, rule, hire, and program with an anti-Black lens. What I have witnessed under the current administration is some progress, but I'm looking forward to see true change. And to me, liberation looks like access, opportunity, programming, resources, and freedom. And so the question that I like to ask is really just are we thriving? We're getting to liberation and the notion that we are living in a sense of freedom, but there's a sense of unfreedom that we are experiencing. How are we together thriving?”

Sharron D. Reed-Davis (she/her) is a senior at MSU studying political science pre-law and human development and family studies. She’s the former two-term president of the Black Students’ Alliance (BSA).

“I didn't grow up celebrating Juneteenth,” she says. “I didn't know much about it. I actually grew up celebrating the Fourth of July. But once I got to college and started getting involved in BSA, that is where I learned about Juneteenth and about what our celebration is supposed to be and when it's supposed to be. Not with the red, white and blue. Not celebrating a country and an institution that has held us down and has taken us for granted.

“I think people should care about Juneteenth and want to uplift Juneteenth because not all people were free when everyone was free. Black people weren't free. We're still not free. So this small celebration that we get to have is when we as people got some type of freedom. It was just one step in the steps that we're still taking to become entirely free people. So this small celebration is something big for us. It may not be when everyone was free, but that's because we always have to be last. We always have to be the ones that are enslaved, that are taken for granted, that are pushed around. So this small celebration on Juneteenth is something that's big to us. And that's why people should want to celebrate and care about Juneteenth.”

Stratton C. Lee III (he/him) is the president of Michigan State University Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association.

“When I think about the significance of Juneteenth, I think about it being a celebration of freedom and liberation,” Lee says. “It serves as a reminder to our community of the lives that have been lost - for those who have fought for freedom and liberation coming from the continent of Africa to living their lives here in the U.S. to those of us who are alive today. This has been a fight for African Americans for absolute quality of life, rights and property. We memorialize those who have died and stand in forceful protest of those who have killed them. It is a celebration. And so when we think about liberation and freedom, we think about what does that mean? And what does that look like in word, action, and in deed?

“It's important for us to come together at these times. To remember our past. To reflect on our shared histories. To learn about our various experiences and to come together collectively to identify what we want to do as a community as we move forward. It speaks to the resilience of our community and the people within it.

“Upon our freedom and liberation, it finally meant that in theory, we are all free. But when you get into what freedom actually looks like, you recognize that our history has been bound to this sense of delay. Many in our communities have experienced those long-term impacts of Jim Crow and segregation and Black Codes, even though we had the Emancipation, the Proclamations, and the Thirteenth Amendment. There are those in this nation who fought tooth and nail to ensure that Black folks would never be able to truly experience that sense of freedom. And on these days and these times where we are able to come together as a community, this is our space to celebrate. To come together and to experience what joys and pleasures we can as a people and as a community. There are many to celebrate and there's much to smile about, even though things sometimes look ugly on the outside.”

“To me this is a celebration of blackness,” adds Marshall. “Juneteenth at MSU on June 19th is called Juneteenth Celebration: From Freedom to Liberation. This is the first time MSU has hosted a university-wide celebration to commemorate the ending of slavery in this country. This recognition is really huge for a predominantly white institution. And what I'm most thrilled about is the unity across our affiliate groups, which are represented here today: Black Student Alliance, Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators, of course Black Alumni, and also the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) and Black Graduate Student Association as well. It shows the power and unity, and it clearly shows that institutional synergy as we have a trustee and leaders across the institution engaged. The event is going to happen on June 19th from 12:00 to 2:00 and more information, including how to RSVP is on the website of the office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. This is a true celebration with music, with food, community and more.”

“I want to thank both Lee and Shondra for really bringing us back to the Black joy and bringing in that balance because that's very important,” Lomax adds. “I think about the ancestors, and I am amazed. I spent 10 years in what we call the stacks in my graduate program at Vanderbilt reading firsthand slave sources. And I've always been amazed at all the creative ways in which the ancestors have made joy and made beauty and made culture in the midst of complete dehumanization, just complete demonarchy, just complete ugliness they made the space for joy and beauty. I really appreciate that being re-centered.

“I'm new to the institution, and I am watching the institution daily. We say in AAAS, ‘Okay, what y'all going to do?’ They may say, ‘Well, you have a new department. You're hiring these people.’ Well, it's more than that. I want to see all the ways that justice and equity in very real ways center Blackness. How are they lived out in terms of politics? I can't say that I'm seeing that every day. And that is as a new faculty member. I'd like to see what’s next. I'd like to see what’s next and want more.

“This celebration is a start and it's wonderful in terms of acknowledgement. But truth be told, after America was burning last summer, a lot of companies dedicated time and resources and language to DEI efforts and to Black folks. I'm very much interested in how the institution plans to incorporate a model in real life. Beyond the celebration and beyond the building of the department, what is it? What are the plans? I'm very interested in that. Because to me, that should be a part of the efforts. I don't want to talk about Juneteenth and not talk about all the structural ways that the institution should be evolving.”

“I want to echo that as well, because I think that a lot of what's been happening with people trying to step up and be allies,” Reed-Davis adds. “It's all good, but the world of social media and the people in charge are trying to make Black culture seem like it's something new and something that just happened or that we just made up. Juneteenth has been a thing. I'm not impressed that because of everything that happened last year, things are finally starting to happen for Black communities. The things that are happening to us are finally coming to light. That's why people are trying to hop on a bandwagon and say that this is not right. It's been not right. So yeah, I appreciate people finally learning and finally highlighting what is happening to Black communities, but what's next now? What's about to happen now because thanks, this was cool, but what's next?”

“I want to attend to something else that Sharron pointed to and some of what Dr. Lomax and Dr. Marshall did as well - this sense of progress juxtaposed with trauma,” Lee adds. “Oftentimes people will say, ‘Well, why do you all want to do this? And why do you want to celebrate? And why is it important?’ There are many people who have been a part of this. But when you think about it, it's still very new and fresh for many of the folks in our communities.

“Many of us are navigating traumas that have been passed down from generation to generation. The fight doesn't stop. We can take time to celebrate. But as we celebrate, we must continue to move forward in advocating for our freedom, our liberty, our justice, and our rights.

“I think that that's an important aspect of this celebration. It brings us together in a point of joy and reminds us that we are actually a community of people, one people, who have a common ancestry that brought us to this place in this time.”

“I want us to truly think about what freedom deliberation really looks like,” Marshall says. “What are we doing to really look at, as I mentioned before, the policies, the practices, the structure, the hires, the programming, the funding, the resources, the access, and the opportunity? How are we looking at all of these things and holding accountable those who have the decision-making power to ensure that we're getting liberated?”

“When I think about the progression of black people, my outlook on it is to appreciate and move forward,” adds Reed-Davis. “Thank you, but what is next? We have a long way to go still, and we have come a long way. We need to appreciate how far we have come but continue to look forward. If we get complacent or stuck on where we came from or what someone gave us, we won't be able to move forward to the next steps and find true liberation. So thank you, but what's next?”

“I think about this is a time for the Black community to come together in joy and gladness,” Lee says. “Let’s leave all of those internal conflicts and learned helplessness and all that type of stuff behind and find the strength and excitement to celebrate being Black in the U.S. I think about it as being a time our sister Maxine Waters describes as ‘Reclaiming My Time.’ This is our time to reclaim. Our time to reclaim our joy. Reclaim our freedoms. Reclaim our peace. Reclaim our power and our energy to be us authentically and unapologetically. We’re doing that in what people call a traditionally white space, and we're making an inclusive, diverse community each and every day.”

“I am always looking back in order to look forward,” concludes Lomax. “And so sometimes I may dwell in the difficult parts of the past more so than the joy. I think the key here for Juneteenth is really bringing that balance. I know sometimes non-Black folks will see Black folks celebrating and think that we enjoy our oppression. I want to make it clear that when we see people celebrating, it is not about an enjoyment of oppression. It is a sense of finding joy, despite it all. That really speaks to the resilience of Black folks.

“To me, that needs to be the centering message of the day: the amazing resilience of Black folks, then and now. It is amazing that Black folks are this resilient and that they can find joy. And so to me, the centering message for the day is that Black folks can find joy in spite of it all.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870 and streams at WKAR.org. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

What is MSU Today with Russ White?

MSU Today is a lively look at Michigan State University-related people, places, events and attitudes put into focus by Russ White. The show airs Saturdays at 5 P.M. and Sundays at 5 A.M. on 102.3 FM and AM 870 WKAR, and 8 P.M. on AM 760 WJR.

Unknown Speaker 0:00
My name is Tamara Lomax, I am the foundational associate professor and the new triple A S Department that's African American and African Studies at MSU. And I'm so I am a historian, a black religion. I'm also trained in black studies and black feminism and I so I my interests here are multiple I am not one who grew up participating in or knowing about Juneteenth. I didn't learn about it. And so sometime in high school in California, actually, I live my life between California and New York, and I've never heard about it in New York. But in California, I remember hearing something about it, but not really understanding what it is. And so, as a historian, the thing that I think about Juneteenth is the, the multiple attempts at freedom, right, so you have the first attempt in 1862, with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, which declare that enslaved people in Confederate States would be free. And well, we know, you know, not much happened. But what's interesting about that, as a religious is how be ex slaves were had they had this freedoms Eve where they're waiting. And this was where we get watch tonight to learn if they are free or not, because the the original signing said that they should be free as of January 1 1863. And so we learned we know the history here, and that is that they weren't free, but they were waiting. And so that's you get the watch night service, that the black you still see within the black church culture, where there's a watch night service, New Year's Eve, and many black church populations. And so that's it's interesting to me for that. But also, we know that there's been a second attempt, right with the 13th amendment is signed to the US Constitution passed by Congress in January 31 1865. And ratified on December 6 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, and we also know that even after the Civil War, right up all of the enslaved we're not free. And so this is a common theme of you know, there being this idea of freedom but black folks not being free, and that's something that we're still dealing with today. Right so this the war happens and you have folks in Texas, you know, not even knowing yet right? This is not a time of social media books are moving by word of mouth, but we also know that the Catterick Confederates aren't too keen on, you know, delivering that information. So that's we have on June 19 1865. Finally, the ex slaves or the enslaved and Texas Galveston Bay, I believe Texas, they learn via Union troops that they are free. So what's interesting to me and my work is what changed. Because that thing that continuum is still there in terms of, you know, this idea of freedom. But But the reality of unfreedom, the boy's rights and this kind of my last point Dubois writes in the souls of black folks that be slave, the ex slaves actually believe that they would experience kind of this promised land that you read about in the Bible. And once they were free, and we know that this was not the case. You just don't move from 400 years of legalized dehumanization, and the rupturing of families and all kinds of legal doctrine from the fugitive slave acts to the parties as Secretary of internet where the legal doctrine meaning that, you know, slave continues to the belly of the woman, you don't move from that overnight. Right. And so we have the reconstruction years after the Civil War. And and that is where really the SEC, the sense of second class citizenship post slavery is really instituted during this time through multiple acts of terrorism and rebellion. And so what's important to me is that, yes, there's this celebration, but there's still this delayed sense of gratification in terms of freedom. There's still that this and because of basically, yes, this 400 years of humanization, but the laws that were put in place, right, the colonial apparatus is still very much alive. And so that's what's important to me in terms of my work in terms of noting that and noting how black folks free and enslaved have been forced to navigate this idea of freedom while living a life that is truly within the context of unfreedom.

Unknown Speaker 4:58
My name is Dr. Shonda Maher I'm a national president of MSU black alumni. And first, you know, I would like to salute the student body, you know, really BSA and all of the rsls that really have been doing excellent and phenomenal work at MSU. I just want to say that you know, as a black student leader, former black student leader, I admired the work, but yet we still persist, we push, we move forward. And as we think about freedom, I'm just gonna, you know, Dr. Lomax really shared a excellent historical perspective. And so I'll just share a little bit about black alumni, and what we're doing and go from there. So the MSU black alumni was officially founded in 1980 by four individuals, Laurel, Baltimore, Betty Nixon, Berry, Terry, curly, young, and B to dub Washington. And essentially, in the 1970s, however, there are various individuals in the city of Detroit who held homecoming activities and spearheaded his homecoming activities. And those folks include Charles Smith, Dr. James weathers, and other alumni in Detroit. So under my administration, I have elevated three areas of organizational focus, which is engagement, enhancement, and evolvement. So we have an endowment, which includes several named endowments at the institution. And that actually was started off at one of our first homecoming events in October of 1980. And at that event, they passed around a pumpkin and they raised money, which included $1,000, to earmark our endowment at the institution. And today we have over $2.5 million in endowments with including our general endowment fund in our name endowments. So with synergy as a foundation, you know, we have really, really, really led our efforts with focusing on ms UVA financial advancement with the institution which is dealing with funding, also MSU hiring MSU students success and Ms UBA membership. So we are looking back at the institution and true sanko perform, and basically lifting as we climb. So when I think about freedom to liberation, you know, how is Ms. UVA helping the institution and helping us to get to liberation? You know, are we holding the institution accountable, looking at every policy, practice rule, higher program with an anti black lens? You know, what I have witnessed under the current administration is some progress, but I'm looking forward to see true change. And to me, liberation looks like access, opportunity, pro programming resources and freedom. And so the question that I like to leave before I pause here is really just are we thriving, you know, as we are getting to liberation, and the notion that we are living in a in a sense of freedom, but there's a sense of unfreedom that we are experienced and how are we together? thriving?

Unknown Speaker 8:07
Hi, everybody. My name is Sharon Lee Davis. I'm a senior at Michigan State studying political science, pre law and Human Development and Family Studies. And I am the former president of BSA, which is the black students Alliance. I didn't grow up celebrating Juneteenth, I didn't know much about it. And I actually grew up celebrating the Fourth of July. But once I got to college and started getting involved in BSA That is why I learned like about Juneteenth and about what our celebration is supposed to be in when it's supposed to be like not with the red, white and blue, not celebrating a country and an institution that has held us down and has taken us for granted, and stuff like that. So I think people should care about john cena and want to uplift him team because not all people was free. When everyone was free, black people weren't free. We were we're still not free. So this small celebration that we get to have is when we as people got some type of freedom. It was just one step in the steps that we're still taking to become an entirely free people. So this month celebration is something big for us. It may not be one everyone was free, but that's because we always have to be less we always have to be the ones that are enslaved that are taken for granted that are pushed around. So this small celebration on Juneteenth is something that's big to us and that's why people should want to celebrate and care about jumping. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 9:45
Hello, everybody. My name is Stratton Lee. I am the president for Michigan State University's black faculty, staff and administrators Association. When I think about the significance of Juneteenth, I think about it being a celebration of freedom and liberation. It serves as a reminder, to our community of the lies that have been lost. For those that have fought for freedom and liberation from, you know, coming from the continent of Africa, to living their lives here in the US, to those of us that are alive today that this has been a fight for African Americans for absolute quality of life, rights and property. And this is our time to even memorialize those that had that, but also to stand in a forceful protest for those that have killed them. It is a celebration, right? And so when we think about liberation and freedom, we think about what does that mean? And what does that look like in Word, action, and in the end, so to some of the points that have already been shared, it's important for us to come together at these times to remember our past, to reflect on our shared histories, to learn about our various experiences, and to come together collectively to identify what we want to do as a community as we move forward. I think it speaks to the resilience of our community, and the people within it. And as people talk about this sense of delayed freedom, I think that that's a core aspect to this is that even with all of the the signing of various documents, you know, the actions that governmental leaders took or local leaders took, there was still a lack of freedom for all of the folks here in the US. And I say all because but people are part of that. All right. And so upon our freedom and liberation, it finally meant that, in theory, we are all free. But when you get into what freedom actually looks like you recognize that our history has been found, or bound to this sense of alignment, because many in our in our communities have experienced those long term impacts of Jim Crow, and segregation, and black codes, and all sorts of things. So even though we had the immense of patients, we had the proclamations, we have all this stuff, the 13th amendment. There are those in this nation that have fought tooth and nail to ensure that black folks have never been able to truly experience that sense of freedom. And on these days, and these times where we are able to come together as a community, this is our space, to celebrate, to to come together and to experience what joys and pleasures we can as the people in the community, which there are many to celebrate, and there is much to smile about, even though you know things look ugly on the outside as well.

Unknown Speaker 13:34
So this is shandra. And I would like to really echo from the the comments that strategy made. To me, this is a celebration of blackness, you know, June teeth and at MSU on June 19 is called Juneteenth celebration, from freedom to liberation. And so this is the first time MSU has hosted a university a wide celebration to really commemorate the ending of slavery in this country. So this recognition is really huge, you know, for a predominantly white institution, and especially since it's just that a pw II. And what I'm most thrilled about is the Unity across our affiliate groups, which are represented here today, you know, Black Student Alliance, black faculty, staff and administrators, of course black alumni and also triple A s and black Graduate Student Association as well. But it shows the power and unity and it clearly shows the institutional synergy, as we have our trustee engage on this level and other leaders across the institution. So the event is going to happen on June 19, from 12 to two and more information including RSVP is on the website of the office for inclusion intercultural initiatives. So this is a true celebration, with music with food community and more

Unknown Speaker 15:00
This is Dr. Womack speaking again, and I wanted to thank those, both Lee and Shonda for really bringing us back the black joy and bringing in that balance, because that's very important. You know, I think about the ancestors. And I am amazed, I spent like 10 years in what we call the specs in my graduate program at Vanderbilt, and that was enslaved sources, firsthand slave sources. And I've always been amazed at the all the creative ways in which that the ancestors have made joy and made beauty and may culture in the midst of complete dehumanization, just complete a demon archy I mean, this complete ugly they've made, they've made the space for joy and beautiful beauty. So I really appreciate that being re centered. The other thing that I think is worth putting out there, and I think I can't remember who brought this up in terms of the administration. This is wonderful. Um, but you know, at the same time, you know, I am still watching, I'm new to the institution, and I'm watching the institution, you know, daily, we are in AAA is like, okay, what's your gonna do? Like I want to see, you know, not just say, you know, and they may say, Well, this, we have a new department, you're hiring these people? Well, it's more than that. I want to see all the ways that justice and equity and very real ways that center blackness, how they are lived out in terms of politics. So I, I can't say that I'm, you know, I'm seeing that every day. And that is as a new faculty member, right. So I'd like to see how the, I like to see what next, right, I'd like to see what next and what more, this is a start. And it's wonderful, in terms of acknowledgment, but truth be told, you know, after you know, America burning last summer, a lot of companies have dedicated time and resources and language, to dei efforts to black folks and what we are learning now, on the back end, now that we're able to see corporate corporate reports. And we're also able to see the efforts of white allies during that time and how they panned out over time. And that's that, you know, folks is linnaean, but they didn't show up in the way that they had promised. So I'm very much interested in how the institution plans to incorporate, you know, a model in real life. Right. So, you know, beyond the celebration, what beyond the building of the department? What is it? What, what are the plans? I'm very interested in that. Because to me, that that should be a part of the efforts, but I don't, I don't want to talk about Juneteenth and not talk about all the structural ways that the institution should be evolving. I was the one who mentioned, you know, I

Unknown Speaker 18:06
see progress, but I must get here that I'm not satisfied. So that's to

Unknown Speaker 18:10
me. Absolutely. I was I was standing in agreement. Yes, yes. Yes. Ron, you were trying to talk? I'm sorry.

Unknown Speaker 18:18
No, you're fine. I just wanted to echo that as well. Because I think that a lot of what's been happening like with people trying to step up and be allies and things like that, like it's all good, but the world or social media and the people in charge are trying to make black culture seem like it's something new and it's like something that just happened or that we just made up. JOHN CENA has been a thing. So I'm not impressed that because of everything that happened last year, things are finally starting to happen for black communities. I'm not impressed because these things have been a thing and people have been knowing about them but because we are being killed and we are being the things that are happening to us this finally come into light that's why people are trying to hop on the bandwagon and say that this is my right it's been out right so yeah, I appreciate what's going on and people finally learning and finally highlighting what is happening to black communities. But what's next now like what's about to happen now because thanks this was this was cool. But what's next

Unknown Speaker 19:28
this is Sandra, Can I ask one question Can constraint and our Sharon share a little bit more about your organization's and how you all see any movement from freedom to liberation, I would love to hear about that.

Unknown Speaker 19:41
I can share a little um so BSA has been around for over 50 years. We were founded in 1967. And I've talked a lot to different life predecessors I've had or different like former and past presidents and it seems like To me that we've the things that are being accomplished now by my eboard, and a couple ebooks before me, and these are things that we've been asking for. So for example, we are in the process of finally getting a freestanding multicultural building on campus. This is this, this has been something that's been asked for by BSA or demanded or requested by BSA for over a decade now, I believe, I think I've seen some, like documents from the I want to say like 1996, or something like that, um, for people asking for a black space of black building, or something like that, like, over time, it's been edited to be a freestanding, multicultural building for everybody. But the requesting of black spaces is not a new thing, like, so. I'm glad that we're accomplishing it now. But it's it should have been happened. I'm appreciative of this administration for being so open to listen to ideas, but at the same time, it should have been happening. So we are getting things accomplished. But we get a lot of pushback every day about simple things. And it's just because the university likes to push and pull, like we ask for a mountain, they give us an inch and expect us to be satisfied. But we're no longer satisfied with that. So it's just the constant push and pull.

Unknown Speaker 21:27
And this is Stratton for similarly to, like students Alliance by faculty staff Administrators Association, was formed in 1969. And lit initially called the by faculty and administrators Association, which, you know, this formation happened in the height of activism on campus and in the midst of the civil rights movement. The association serves as a strong voice and advocate for justice on campus and support for recruitment and success of black faculty, students, staff, and administrators. Through our 52 years, we've worked in tandem with the students to and ultimately with our alumni as well to create space and opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge and support blackness at MSU. So for example, we've worked with what was then known as Black seniors recognition day. Now the black celebratory. We've advocated for black employees, graduate students and undergrads who are experiencing significant mistreatment and injustices. We provide space and time for community building for those that feel as if they're isolated on campus as they're working. We work on you know, black, red, having black represented representatives on hiring, promotion and tenure committees. We recognize and award black leaders through our historical and emerging leaders recognition reception that we've been hosting. For several years now. We really stand as a collective voice for black MSU. When we meet with administrators, of everyone from the president, Provost, trustees, Dean's chairs, directors, faculty, advisors, we are actively engaged and involved in the process. I also wanted to attend to something else that I forget who said it, but it was making me think about I think shavon had pointed to some of it. And Dr. Lomax and Dr. Marshall as well, is this sense of progress juxtaposed with trauma. And so one thing I was reflecting on, I was thinking about, oftentimes people will say, Well, why do you all want to do this? And why do you want to celebrate? And why is it important in its history, or history, depending on how you approach this work, right. And so either way, there are many people that have been a part of this, but when you think about it, it's still very new and fresh. For many of the folks in our communities, my great aunt is 90 some years old, right? And so she spoke to her mother and her grandmother, right. And so her grandmother, definitely being of age and time where she she experienced some things that were not so pretty beautiful, right? And then her mother, right, being an enslaved woman, and so and fathers as well, right. And so when you think about that, the the direct story of narratives lessons that have been passed from generation to generation are really not that far off. I'm talking to my great honor, who's talked to someone who's lived through slavery. Right. And so while we read it as history, it's still a very present story and narrative for people that are walking through today, who had to learn lessons about how to be safe, how to live their best lives, under times of oppression, under and through times of segregation, and all types of assaults against the community.

Unknown Speaker 25:36
I think Stratton, you've really summed up beautifully black joy. And the reason that we are celebrating that, that that connection to that generational, you know, as it flows through our generation, and in the levels of it, that we're not too far removed. That's why we're doing this. And so if you can imagine that there's living individuals who have witnessed that experience that gets to the freedom component. And that liberation pathway,

Unknown Speaker 26:09
right. Yeah, yeah. And I find that you know, that is the importance and significance of us coming together and doing the work that we're doing that, you know, BSA, BG sa BFS, hey MSU, ba, AAA s, and on and on and on, that we come together and do this work. Because it's still new. It's not a past historic thing. Many of us are navigating those traumas that have been passed down from generation to generation, that have taught us that the fight doesn't stop, that you can take the time to celebrate, but as you celebrate, continue to move forward in advocating for your freedom, your liberty, your justice, your rights, and so on. And so I think that that's an important aspect of this celebration, that it brings us together in a point of joy, to be reminded, that, you know, we are, we are actually a community of people, one people that share in in however you think about this theory, it are energies that have, you know, a common ancestry that brought us to this place in this time. And so when we come together, we actually, you know, our that vision that those that were, you know, 100 years off 200 years or 300 years off, saw, being able to walk through, and not be scared to, to live and operate in our lives in the way that we are now. Compared to what they had to endure.

Unknown Speaker 28:05
So as we close this shandra come in, again, I want us to truly think about what freedom to liberation really looks like, you know, so how does all of our experiences, our position positions are positioning? How does that look? You know, what are we doing to really look at, as I mentioned before, the policies, the practices, the structure that the hires, the programming, the funding, the resources, the access the opportunity? How are we looking at all of these things, and holding those who have the decision making power to ensure that we're getting liberated.

Unknown Speaker 28:46
I will also like to say a few closing words. And this is Sharon, I was just gonna say that. I think when I think about the progression of black people, my outlook on it is appreciate and move forward. So thank you, but what's next? So we have a long way to go still, and we have came a long way. So we need to appreciate how far we came. But continue to look for because if we get complacent or stuck on where we came on what someone gave us, we won't be able to move forward to the like next steps and find true liberation. So thank you. But what's next?

Unknown Speaker 29:27
Yeah, I think about this Stratton, I think about this is a time for the black community to come together in joy and gladness, leaving all of those internal conflicts and you know learned helplessness and all that type of stuff behind in finding the strength and excitement of being black in the US. I think about it of being a time where like our our sister Maxine Waters who said, reclaiming my time, this is our time to reclaim our time to reclaim our joy, reclaim our freedoms, reclaim our peace, reclaim our power and our energy to to be us authentic, authentically and unapologetically. And to be able to do that in what, you know, people will call it traditionally white space, but that we're making an inclusive, diverse community each and every day.

Unknown Speaker 30:36
You know, I just want to affirm all that's been said here. My politics is really sanko for us. So I am always looking back in order to look forward. And so sometimes, you know, I may dwell in the difficult parts of the past more so than the joy and I think the key here for Juneteenth is really bringing that balance. I know sometimes, non black folks will see black folks celebrating and thinking that they enjoyed their oppression that we enjoy our oppression. And that is, I want to make it clear that when we see people celebrating, it is not about an enjoyment of oppression, it is an injury, it is a sense of finding joy, despite it all right. And I think that really speaks to the resilience of black box. And to me, I think that needs to be kind of the centering message of the day the amazing resilience of black folks, then and now in a country that still deploys forms of lynching, black holes, voting blocks, I mean, we're seeing voting blocks right now. Right economic exploitation. All of these things still exist. It is it is amazing that black folks are This was resilient and that they can find joy. And so to me, I think the centering message for the day is just the sense of all around black books, to find joy, despite of it all.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai