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, TX 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 people in cities across the U.S. are celebrating Juneteenth with marches, protests, parades and community celebrations. JC, a resident and kitchen worker, has come up with his own way to bring people together to celebrate and honor this important day of liberation.
JC went above and beyond and planned an entire dinner for his fellow residents. “With everything that is going on, God just drove me in that direction. This would be the best time to bring us up under one mind.” While he is preparing pulled pork, cabbage, black eyed peas, and tea, he is also serving up a message with both the red velvet cake and red punch. “The symbol of the red punch, crimson, is resilience. The same with the red velvet cake. It is a symbol of what they had to endure in bondage and being enslaved.” JC’s goal is preparing a meal to bring people together and get them talking; talking about who they are, how they grew up and really getting to know one another.
He views Juneteenth as a second Independence Day, “I call it a day that we are the people have stepped outside of what the norm was and it shows resilience.” He sees the same resilience in recovery and knows personally that people have the ability to change. “If I was raised in an unhealthy environment and I came here to get help to get in front of this addiction that means I can change the way I was raised as well in terms of how we view other people and races. Let me plant the seed and let somebody else come water it and whatever happens afterwards, I’ve done my part to help the change.” JC recognizes that change is not easy but it is possible and worth the hard work.
Though freedom came more than a century ago, there are still injustices happening to the Black community today. JC recalled that growing up he felt like his skin was his sin. When he was playing football at Cal State Fullerton, he arrived at a game where they had strung stuffed gorillas in tree with nooses. While he used that as fuel in game to come out with a win, it reminded him that those people and those types of experiences exist.
“Last week, I talked with a group of guys from around the city. I was the only African American there. I told them to ask me anything. It doesn’t offend me to be asked questions. What offends me is when people assume something. That shows me that they are uneducated. We talked about the looting versus the riots. The looting is wrong, but so is the killing of black men. It has got to stop. We can’t grow legs unless we’re united as one.”
“I can honestly say that everyone in this building, I love them. I will stand beside of them anytime, anywhere, against social, racial injustice. We will do this together as a family. I thank God that he brought everything full circle to where I need to be.”
“If you have a coworker, friend, next door neighbor, guy in the parking lot panhandling change, and they aren’t of your ethnicity, talk to them. Get to know them. Because together, we have to make this thing go. We talk about freedom. Let’s be free to speak, Let’s be free to unify. Let’s be all in. All my chips are in and I’m doing my part. What about you? “
Dallas 24 Hour Club’s mission to provide safe, sober transitional living for homeless men and women extends to all people regardless of color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We stand for inclusion and acceptance. We stand against racism and intolerance.