MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – June 19th or, Juneteenth, is a day African Americans celebrate independence from slavery.
“As a child I didn’t really understand the meaning behind it,” said mother Nichelle Taylor. “So now I got to celebrate and know and learn and just pass it on.”
The holiday is marked by picnics, parties, and music much like the Fourth of July.
“It’s the liberation of American slaves here,” said Rev. Erin Beasley of Germantown United Methodist Church. “We understand that though the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, there were slaves in Texas that didn’t find out about that until 1865.”
For Reverend Beasley, Wednesday was an opportunity to invite people of different races to worship and celebrate as one in the Juneteenth Unity Service.
“Our churches are pretty segregated because of our racist past,” said Rev. Beasley. “We really want to move beyond that so our churches resemble our neighborhood.”
Beasley has spent the last three years in conversations with other church leaders at New Bethel Missionary Baptist, El Redentor, and Germantown Presbyterian tackling issues on race and inequality.
“How race and socio-economic status and orientation and how all that intersects with each other. And how the church can be part of that healing.”
the church hopes sharing the impact of slavery and its impact on communities today will help with healing.
“I think a lot of people will come here tonight because they are curious, they don’t know much about it,” shared Beasley. “I look forward to sharing more with them about Juneteenth and why they need to tell their friends about it.”