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Dear Decaturish – The importance of Juneteenth 2021

Decatur Editor's Pick

Dear Decaturish – The importance of Juneteenth 2021

A re-enactment of a ceremonial procession by Flat Rock community members to the Flat Rock Cemetery. Photo provided to Decaturish

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Dear Decaturish,

With the city of Decatur, the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights will hold a Juneteenth celebration on the city Square from 4 to 8:00 p.m. on June 19. The themes of the family-focused event are “Liberate, Educate, Celebrate” and the day will include a youth art and mural project, vendors, and music.

“Juneteenth is an opportunity to celebrate liberated spaces and an opportunity to educate and inspire the communities to support this mass movement to erase symbols of hate,” community activist Meymoona Freeman said. “Through community education this movement to remove hate symbols and liberate spaces will bring change to Georgia, other southern states, this region and our nation as a whole.”

This day takes on special significance not only because it is taking place on the one-year anniversary of the taking down of the confederate obelisk but also because it is happening at a time when organized forces in the state and nation are attempting to silence any discussion in our schools of the systemic racism that this country has been built on. On June 3rd, the Georgia State Board of Education passed a resolution that supports a ban on teaching students about racism.

In response to the resolution, the City Schools of Decatur said, “This resolution would harm all students by misrepresenting history and seeking to deny them the space and tools to critically examine our country’s past and present actions that have marginalized people of color.”

The story of Juneteenth is an example of the history that must be taught to our children. It recognizes the day in Galveston, Texas, when enslaved Africans finally heard the news of their freedom two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights believes we must face and discuss race, racism, white supremacy and is committed to decolonizing the alienating, dehumanizing curriculum that has been the status quo in US schools throughout history and continues to exist in schools today.

“From the beginning of our work to remove the genocide cannon on the Square, we have worked to educate the community about the connection between the removal of the Indigenous Muscogee Nation to make room for the plantation economy,” said Fonta High, co-chair of Beacon Hill and its Decolonizing Decatur Committee. “We will continue to do our work to educate the community about the connection between genocide and slavery and demand that DeKalb County remove this cannon now while making known the ongoing legacy of white supremacy and colonization today.”

– Fonta High and Paul McLennan

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