Letter to the Editor

Juneteenth a time to remember history

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Dear editor,

Mississippi County’s Juneteenth celebration is a time when we embrace our own. It’s a moment when we acknowledge our history and gain wisdom from the pillars of our community, uplift the young adults striving to remove the limits of success and ensure the youth is aware of their everlasting worth.

Since coming to Blytheville in 2015, this annual celebration has displayed the best of our city and provided the opportunity to uplift and shower each other with love and support.

Juneteenth in Mississippi County and across nation is a direct answer to the question Donald Trump posed on Aug. 16 in Michigan during his presidential campaign, asking African Americans, “What do you have to lose?”

Just as the countless black communities across the nation, Mississippi County’s black community has plenty to lose.

The years of progress we’ve made despite consistent systemic racism and oppression, entrepreneurship spirit developed over decades of education and the promising future already established by our youth.

With each celebration, my sense of pride and honor for the entire Blytheville community has reached new heights.

Since initially serving as a volunteer in 2016, my eagerness has grown along with the celebration’s reach in the area.

With the unrest and pain brought by continuous injustices against African American people across the nation, the importance of Juneteenth needs to be re-established now more than ever.

Opening our cell phones and turning on our TVs to consistently see our men and women be murdered creates a trauma many of our counterparts fail to understand.

Additionally, our community is often met with a collective slap in the face with officers escaping convictions time and time again.

Having to fight against these injustices over and over again is both exhausting and disappointing to say the absolute least.

Furthermore, in many professions and various workplaces, our community is misrepresented and often unappreciated. We’re repeatedly faced with the balance of wholeheartedly embracing our culture or watering things down to keep others comfortable or fit into the company’s “image”.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down the complete traditional celebration in Mississippi County this year, Juneteenth is what our community needs across the country right now.

Aside from recognizing the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in 1965, Juneteenth is a break from constantly seeing our people be abused and harassed in the street. It is an acknowledgement and continuation of our prosperity and significance.

Juneteenth brings the best of our past, present and future together were we are not required to water things down.

We are not forced to continually see images of us dying. Instead, we get to see images of our people in our truest form, thriving.

— Marcus McClain

University of Central Arkansas senior

Blytheville resident