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Why Juneteenth Should Be a National Holiday

Last Played: June 15, 2021
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Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed explains why she thinks it's so important to have a national holiday that recognizes the emancipation of slaves. Gordon-Reed says that there should be a day to remember a time when people were treated as property, and a day to honor what those people hoped would happen in the future for their descendants.
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How important to you is it to have a national holiday that recognizes the emancipation of slaves? I think it's very important. My father used to joke and I don't know how much he was joking. He would say the slaves have been freed. What he was talking about is that there is still a long struggle for african americans. He knows that there were, there have been advances and progress and so forth. But I think there ought to be a day to remember what it must have felt like for people who had been treated as property, who feared more than anything the loss of relatives and family members because they were seen as property through sail through inheritance, the normal operations of the property system that they lived under the vagaries of all of that. And there was great joy, a great sense of release and a great sense of hope that existed in those people. And I think one of the ways we can honor that would be to have a day to think about and reflect on what their circumstances were like and what they hoped would happen in the future for their descendants.
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