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What Young People Have To Say About Juneteenth

We talked to young adults in the Cassandra Collective about Juneteenth, “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.” Here’s what they have to say about the holiday, as part of our on-going research around social justice and the current antiracism civic movement. These qualitative insights, from online research conducted June 16 - 17, 2020, are supported by data from our ongoing quantitative research.

WHEN & HOW DID YOU FIRST LEARN ABOUT JUNETEENTH?

  • "A few days ago, which I'm kind of embarrassed about. I was never taught about these things in school and while I try to educate myself on Black history as someone with a Black mom, I miss some huge things like that.” – Danita, 18, PA
  • “I was first aware of Juneteenth from an Instagram post that explained to me what happened. This was earlier today.” – Erika, 15, NJ
  • “I’m embarrassed to say I’m just hearing about it now.” – Stephanie, 32, NJ
  • The numbers from Cassandra: 6 in 10 U.S. Black youth (59%) like sharing their interest in social causes and issues online, which is higher than for youth of other races.

HOW SHOULD OUR COUNTRY COMMEMORATE JUNETEENTH?

  • “I had never heard of the holiday before this month, and I think that speaks to the under-education and un-recognization of this holiday and others celebrating minorities in particular. As a country, we should use this as an opportunity to educate and celebrate.” – Ari, 16, CO
  • “A celebration of freedom for any American is a celebration of the ideals that make our country what it is today. We should close our offices and celebrate this festival with all major and minor communities of America.” – Parth, 23, NY
  • “As a country, we should celebrate/commemorate Juneteenth similarly to how we celebrate July 4th. There should be fireworks, celebrations, ice creams named for it, etc.” – Erika, 15, NJ
  • The numbers from Cassandra: 7 in 10 U.S. Black youth (69%) say brands should contribute to the cultural conversation around elections/national events, compared to 57% of White youth.

WHAT DOES JUNETEENTH MEAN TO YOU?

  • “To me, Juneteenth is a wonderful celebration of the freedom that the Black community has deserved for centuries. It is also a reminder that we still have a long way to go. The Black community cannot fight for their freedom alone and I will do whatever I need to help dismantle white supremacy and create an anti-racist environment.” – Natalie, 20, IL
  • “Juneteenth is very important to me although it does not directly impact me. It is important because it commemorates and celebrates freedom and liberation of slaves. It was a step in the right direction and this impacts [both] me and our society today.” – Erika, 15, NJ
  • “I think it shows how we've come out of a bad place and put an end to slavery. I think this holiday could mean a lot to people and I think celebrating the freedom of everyone is a good thing.” – Kyler, 20, OR
  • “For me it is a celebration of the liberation of slaves, and represents one milestone in a step towards equality for all[;] however[,] there are many more steps to go before we are all equal.” – Caitlyn, 18, WA
  • The numbers from Cassandra: Black youth are 58% more likely than White youth to pay attention to an ad if it references current events.