The significance of celebrating Juneteenth

Bob Johnson, founding director of Juneteenth Atlanta, one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the U.S., discusses the significance of remembering the anniversary of June 19, 1865 – the day the last enslaved Africans and African Americans in the U.S. became free.

“Juneteenth is a commemoration of all of those people who fought against slavery. Who fought to abolish slavery,” he says.

Johnson started his annual three-day parade and music festival in 2012, and he says it’s more relevant than ever.

Bob Johnson at Juneteenth Atlanta 2015.

“Events like this have to sustain. They have to be available to future generations so that we can put as many pieces of this puzzle together as possible. Knowing the contributions that you have made as a people is important to your esteem, your confidence, and your well-being.”

He says his event includes floats of inspirational black leaders of the U.S., as well as the kings and queens of Africa – so that the youth, especially, leave with more pride – and hope.

“Freedom is important, says Johnson. “To be able to be part of your community is important. To be able to have dignity is important.”