It’s been two years since the United States designated Juneteenth a federal holiday.
But America still has a long way to go to recognize and correct racial injustice on a wider scale, says a Virginia Tech expert.
Onwubiko Agozino is a professor of sociology at Virginia Tech. His scholarly work is focused on people of African descent and other marginalized groups globally. He believes that the commemoration of Juneteenth should drive people to recognize and stop racism that still exists in society. The June 19 holiday marks the day two months after the Civil War that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free.
“Misguided administrations around the country are busy banning the teaching of critical race theory and restricting the teaching of African American history in schools,” Agozino said. “But Juneteenth should serve as a reminder that racism-sexism-poverty are joined together and should be resisted in solidarity and in coalitions in the interest of all.”
Many in the African American community will celebrate the day with picnics, parties, and remembrance events. Agozino said he believes that Juneteenth should be marked by reading relevant history books. Agozino himself plans to attend the Christiansburg Institute’s Juneteenth event this Saturday, June 17.
“What needs to be learned from the Juneteenth commemoration is that racism is a threat to the entire society and not only against people of African descent or people of color alone,” he said. “We are to be united as human beings the way Martin Luther King, Jr. put it.”
Onwubiko Agozino is a professor of sociology and a scholar-activist who values inclusive excellence and diversity with critical attention focused on people of African descent and other marginalized groups around the world. He emphasizes race, class, and gender issues in his contributions to learning, discovery, and community engagement beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
Jenny Kincaid Boone for Virginia Tech