In this episode of Let's Talk About It, Dialogue Company founder David Campt and WFDD reporter David Ford discuss the wide-ranging perceptions people have about Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, and how we reflect on it. To gather different opinions for this show, David Ford spent a few hours in Winston-Salem, asking passersby if they thought of Juneteenth as an all-Black celebration or something for all Americans.  

Tyra London works downtown with Inmar Intelligence, a data platform company. She says Juneteenth is important for everyone, "because we were a crucial part in America's history, building our foundation and all of that. So, I think it'd be the respectable thing for all Americans to appreciate that holiday."  

Business owner Rico Miller believes Juneteenth is a celebration for the Black community. "It particularly dealt with the scrutiny that we had to deal with — our ancestors had to deal with — all the people that died and were beaten and brought here and were persecuted, because of the color of their skin."  

Anton Singleton disagrees.

"I believe everybody because it's just like everybody celebrates Fourth of July," says Singleton. "Yeah, just like Veterans Day is celebrated by everybody, but we’re not all veterans."

As varied as opinions about Juneteenth are, David Campt says there are many others out there.

"I've heard this from different types of folks, including white folks saying, ‘Oh, that's y’all’s holiday,’" says Campt. "I've also had people tell me this holiday should not exist, and it’s divisive since we should all just celebrate July 4th. The basic thing happening is this — there's a disagreement between people about the need to focus on the perspective and needs of a subgroup, in this case, Black folks, versus the perspective and needs of the whole group, in this case, all Americans." 

"If you want to create good conversation about this, it’s useful to prepare for that by thinking of examples you've seen where people went too far in focusing on the needs of the whole group, or they went too far to focus on the needs of a subgroup," Campt says. "And therefore, when somebody shares their opinion, you can say, ‘Well, I don't think you’re completely crazy, because I've seen situations like that,’ before you say the other perspective and try to invite some balanced thinking about it."

Hear more from this conversation in the accompanying audio. 

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.