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JUNETEENTH : Noting history, a brighter future

For 26 years, the Dunkirk-Fredonia community has been at the forefront of noting the Juneteenth Celebration. This weekend is no different.

With a theme this year of “Together We Can Create Change,” Juneteenth began Friday evening with a showing of the movie, “A Wrinkle in Time.” However, there is a great significance to this year’s gathering.

At noon Saturday in Dunkirk’s Memorial Park, a special Remembrance Celebration will take place. It will honoring all family members who have passed away, the Buffalo 10, and Uvalde, Texas, students and teachers who lost their lives in the May 24 school shooting. This three-day Juneteenth celebration will be dedicated to families.

In 1996, citizens of the Dunkirk-Fredonia community co-sponsored the first Juneteenth Celebration to be observed in Chautauqua County. The main goal of this celebration, according to local organizers, is to commemorate and perpetuate the heritage, culture and contributions of African Americans.

While New York state and Chautauqua County will note the holiday on Monday, many others have not followed through. According to the Associated Press article this week, recognition of Juneteenth — the effective end of slavery in the U.S. — gained traction after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. But after an initial burst of action, the movement to have it recognized as an official holiday in the states has largely stalled.

“Becoming a state holiday will not merely give employees a day off, it will also give residents a day to think about the future that we want, while remembering the inequities of the past,” said Democratic Del. Andrea Harrison, who sponsored the Juneteenth legislation in Maryland this year. “It will help us to reflect how far we’ve come as a nation, how much more we need to do as humankind.”

In a world that continues to grow divided, this is as good a time — and reason — to come together and truly be united.

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