Juneteenth celebration continues in Carbondale

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KBSI) – The African American Museum of Southern Illinois continued its Juneteenth celebration Friday with a block party at the Eurma Hayes Center.

To Corene McDaniel, co-founder of the African American Museum of Southern Illinois, a seven-letter word symbolizes what Juneteenth celebrates.

“It’s freedom,” she said. “It’s recognizing our forefathers whose struggle was so great. We think that life is hard now. It’s nothing compared to what the slaves went through.”

And even though the federal holiday is celebrated on June 19, McDaniel said that, every day, people should learn about and understand the tenets Juneteenth puts into light.

“It’s not a one-day thing. This is every day,” she said. “I tell people this is an everyday thing. We need to learn something about our heritage every day.”

Matthew Wilson of the Southern Illinois Unity Coalition said Friday’s block party was a way for the community to come together as one.

“We wanted to unify the community in a special way by bringing them together to celebrate with music, dance, poetry, all the works,” he said. 

Wilson has been celebrating Juneteenth since he was a child, but now that it is a federal holiday, it means even more to him.

“Now that we can celebrate it as a community, as a federal holiday, really means a lot to me,” he said. “Today is a day of freedom, so of course we want to celebrate that.”

Freedom: a simple seven-letter word that carries so much weight.

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