Juneteenth, otherwise known as Freedom Day or a second Independence Day, is one of the newest holidays added to the calendar. It celebrates the day enslaved people learned of their emancipation, on June 19, 1865, in the state of Texas.

The commemoration of this day brings me mixed feelings as a Black person.

While I celebrate the freedom received on that day, bringing an official end to slavery, I cannot help but reflect on why this inhumane act was brought upon my ancestors in the first place. Do I want another form of segregation where we are singled out and reminded yearly of all the ills that were committed against a group of people who only want and deserve equal opportunities?

Derriffee Graham

No, but I digress. I will acknowledge and celebrate because we deserve this recognition.

As an immigrant from the Caribbean, I understand all too well what independence means for each country and its citizens, and therefore I take this as a second celebration of freedom. This is a unique opportunity to be able to have a double celebration, paying homage to the past, and looking forward to the changing future. I am grateful for the work that was necessary to get us here.

As a Connecticut resident, I appreciate that this holiday is also special because Gov. Ned Lamont announced that for the first time this year Juneteenth will be observed as a legal state holiday.

This means African Americans of this state are able to see the full impact of their sacrifices and freely embrace their history. While this does not erase the cruelty of slavery, it is a step in the right direction and a reminder that some things get better with time.

Personally, I will take this day as a celebration of how far we have come as a people and look forward to all the changes I believe will happen in the future for African Americans and everyone who holds our best interest at heart.

Derriffee Graham, originally from Jamaica, is currently studying computer science at CT State Community College. He is also a member of the CT Air National Guard.