Celebrating and commemorating Juneteenth

Juneteenth Freedom Day

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Catalyte is closed on June 18th in commemoration of Juneteenth. Software developer Alicia Waide shares reflections on what the holiday means to her, and what it can mean for the country.

I’ve never celebrated Juneteenth. As the daughter of an U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, I lived in multiple states as a child. I never saw anyone else around the country celebrate this day. In fact, I was in college before I’d ever heard of it.

I’ve often reflected on what I was taught in school about slavery and my country’s racial past, and found it lacking both content and perspective. Around the world, other cultures celebrate events like gaining their independence and the end to periods of oppression. Not trendy “in-the-moment” celebrations, but lasting acknowledgements that include learning and discussing what’s happened and how to progress.

The end of slavery in this country is something to celebrate. But beyond celebrating, it is important to acknowledge how we’ve gotten to where we are as a country and why things still need to change.

These conversations are important. I’ve asked several people I know about their Juneteenth celebrations. Great conversations ensued, but there was a different response from almost everyone with whom I spoke.

I’m seeing more signs of Juneteenth celebrations than I ever have before, for a multitude of reasons. Maybe I’m just paying more attention. Or maybe we’re all starting to understand that celebration and reflection aren’t opposites, and that you can experience both at the same time.

I’m happy to say that this year, I was invited to a Juneteenth celebration. It is an invitation I’m excited to honor.

– Alicia Waide is a software developer at Catalyte

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