Richmonders react to Juneteenth recognized as federal holiday

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)— Richmonders are reacting to President Joe Biden signing a bill that recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday which makes June 19 also known as Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the day slavery ended in the U.S. Governor Ralph Northam took steps last year to make Juneteenth a statewide holiday in Virginia.

Amanda Lynch, who lives in northside Richmond, said Juneteenth is a celebration of her ancestors’ struggles and victories.

“For the past 400 years, we’ve been fighting to have some recognition about the horrible treatment of American chattel slavery and so to see the country recognize the end of that is truly monumental,” she said.

Senate approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

Lynch said her great-great grandmother, Mary Jane Harris Palmore, was enslaved on the Palmore Plantation in Powhatan.

Lynch is named after Palmore’s mother who was sold to a plantation in the Deep South.

“Although we’re free, we’re freeish,” she said.

Lynch wants to see racism acknowledged as a public health crisis.

She also said racism should be eliminated from all the systems and structures in place that hinders the black community.

“Having more money allocated towards literacy and early childhood initiatives within black and brown communities certainly would be helpful,” she said. “Even looking at programs that are not in place to increase opportunities to purchase homes, reducing student loan debt which is crippling black Americans are certainly steps in the right direction.”

EXPLAINER: The story of Juneteenth, the new federal holiday

Meanwhile, Crystal Suber, said she’s excited about the celebrations happening this weekend. “It’s long overdue,” she said.

Suber said this motivates her to educate the younger generations about the importance of this holiday, especially since she didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school.

“I immediately started thinking about the future generation. Like why did I never learn this in school? I learned about it in the community, but I never really attended a Juneteenth celebration until I was an adult,” she said.

Last year’s protests against police brutality and social injustice inspired her to be apart of Patchwork RVA.

For a list of Juneteenth events click here.

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