Scouting Wire regularly takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of different holidays and support fellow unit members in their own holiday observances. Join us as Terrence Hamilton, Scout Executive of the Gulf Stream Council, shares his unique perspective on the importance of Juneteenth.
Scouting Wire: For those who may not be familiar with Juneteenth, can you please tell us a little about the holiday?
Terrence Hamilton: Juneteenth has traditionally been celebrated by most Black families and Black communities that have deep family roots in the state of Texas. It is historical because, on this day in 1865, enslaved Blacks in Texas received news that the war was over, and they were now free people. It is important to note that this occurred two-and-a-half years after the signing of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. As the newly freed Blacks left Texas, they annually chose to celebrate their freedom in their new state of residence.
This day in Black history was not mentioned in most history books but has gained in popularity since the onset of the Internet. Nationally, and now globally, this day symbolizes and commemorates the true end of slavery.
Initially, celebratory events were confined to Black communities. They included BBQ, soul food dishes, games, rodeos, and prayer. Today, the focus of Juneteenth has shifted somewhat. While celebrations in the traditional sense still happen, they are now paired with events that seek to develop a deeper knowledge of Black history and culture. There is also an additional focus on self-development and self-improvement.
SW: Do you know Scouts who have any Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?
TH: No, but I am sure some exists. As Scouts, we seek to understand different cultures. In doing so, we gain respect and appreciation for others who may not look like us or share the same beliefs.
SW: For Scout units that may have members who celebrate Juneteenth, what are some considerations and ways these Scout units can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?
TH: Learn more by visiting a Juneteenth community event near you, or search for a virtual celebration. There are many great virtual options online.
Special thanks to Terrence Hamilton, Scout Executive of the Gulf Stream Council, for sharing this with Scouting Wire.