Local historian talks about significance of Juneteenth then, and now

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A local historian wants people in the Cape Fear to know the meaning behind the Juneteenth event that has just been designated a federal holiday.

Lettie Shumate spoke with Good Morning Carolina anchor Donna Gregory a few hours before President Biden signed the bill into law.  She says history books have failed to record some of the important events surrounding Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when Texans learned slavery had ended.  They learned the news years after the Emancipation Proclamation, but before the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery was ratified.

“The thing that’s left out of history books is that this happened only in states that were controlled by the Union,” she explained, “so you still had a lot of Confederate states that allowed slavery to continue until 1865.”

She says the conversation about Juneteenth can’t happen without a discussion of Critical Race Theory, even though she acknowledges that topic upsets many people.  She says she’s happy about the holiday designation, but says there are other important anti-racism initiatives that have yet to be signed into law.

She says one next right step for Americans to take as a culture is to recognize all of history, not just history people want to feel good about.  “History is deep, history is dark, but history is also about resilience and hope and we see tenacity throughout the entirety of Black history,” she said.

Shumate is an activist, historian and educator living in Wilmington, NC.  She can be reached at https://www.sincerelylettie.com/

Categories: Local, NC, NC-Carolinas, New Hanover, News

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