JC Anderson, 24 Alum, brings awareness and education through food.
Juneteenth is a day set aside to celebrate the news of the emancipation finally reaching the last enslaved people on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas over two years after the proclamation declared their freedom. Juneteenth started as a tradition for Black people in Texas and spread slowly around the U.S. Today, many individuals in cities across the U.S. celebrate Juneteenth with community celebrations, and thanks to JC Anderson, a 24 Alum, The 24 is celebrating with its 4th Annual Juneteenth Lunch which is open to all Residents and Community Members.
"Juneteenth is a way for me to give back. It’s meaning is freedom from slavery, but for me, it’s also freedom from alcoholism. They started the Juneteenth tradition back in 1865 and the Juneteenth Lunch is something I can do now to do my part. Mr. Tillman (founder of The 24) opened up the doors and I want to do my part to continue his tradition while bringing awareness to Juneteenth," JC said.
JC grew up in Compton, California and recalled that he felt like his skin was his sin. Playing football at Compton High School, JC was often playing against predominantly white schools where he heard racial slurs during games.
"One year, we played an all-white school at their stadium. When we arrived, they had stuffed gorillas on nooses hanging over their balcony. We used that as fuel and beat them 62-0. But after the game, we had to walk back to our bus with our helmets on because we didn’t know what was going to be thrown at us. Monkeys, the n-word, black as tar, we heard it all."
Rather than get mad or become resentful, JC chooses to view these experiences as his chance to educate and enlighten individuals. He speaks out against racial injustice in addition to any other injustice and hate. JC has two LGBTQ brothers, so he feels strongly that any injustice towards any person is wrong and against God. He says that “God made us all different, so we can learn from one another. Underneath, we are all the same.”
In 2019, when JC started planning the 1st Annual Juneteenth Lunch at The 24, he did lots of research on the messaging of the meal. This year, JC will serve brisket, ribs, cabbage with links, collard greens with ham hocks, cornbread, mac and cheese, plus red velvet cake and red punch. The color red is a fixture in Juneteenth celebrations because vibrant foods were uncommon in days of enslavement, especially to slaves. Foods during that time were generally white, green, or brown. Red foods were a luxury. Additionally, the color red is symbolic in African cultures and many enslaved Africans arrived in Galveston, which is also the birthplace of Juneteenth.
Barbecued meats are also considered a red food and many early Juneteenth celebrations called for communities to gather for a barbecue meal. The side dishes represent prosperity of good fortune and wealth. Collard greens was a common dish for slaves because they were easy to harvest, store, and prepare.
Growing up, JC never understood the meaning of Juneteenth, but now he feels he has a connection to the celebration and he feels called to do his part in bringing awareness and helping the community learn about injustices.
"I’m honored The 24 gave me the platform to cook the lunch and speak and answer questions for our entire community to learn. I feel the weight of my past, but I also feel my ancestors telling me that I can do this. It lights a fire in me to continue. This is the 4th year for me to cook lunch at The 24 for Juneteenth and it’s also the 4th year of my sobriety, so it’s very meaningful for me."
Today, JC works for Homeward Bound and visits The 24 daily to stay connected.
Join JC and The 24 for the 4th Annual Juneteenth Lunch on June 19th from 1pm-3pm. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org