Vice President Kamala Harris gave an invigorating and reaffirming speech on June 19, at the Greek Theatre, in Los Angeles. In the outside auditorium, a camera captured the audience, which featured an abundance of afros, braids, bald heads, and straight hair attached to different hues of bodies filling the frame of the lens.
“Today, Americans from all walks of life come together to celebrate Juneteenth. To honor black excellence, culture, and community. To remember our nation’s full history,” said Harris.
“And to celebrate one of our founding principles, the principle of freedom. America is a promise. A promise of freedom, liberty, and justice. The story of Juneteenth as we celebrate it is the story of our ongoing fight to realize America’s promise. Not for some. But for all.”
As the crowd cheered and applauded, Harris continued, “So as we gather tonight, let us remember the words of the great Coretta Scott King. The fight for civil rights must be fought and won with each generation. She reminds us that our freedoms will not be permanent unless we, in each generation, are vigilant to protect them. So let us all stand together as Americans, to teach and honor our history. To protect our liberty and to continue the fight for freedom.”
The message by the nation’s first female vice president and first vice president of African descent left the crowd heartened and encouraged.
Also, Harris’ speech reminded citizens that without the active fight and engagement for freedom, the future is bleak, so she urged the audience to keep fighting and striving for their dreams to ensure that their ancestors did not die in vain.
In recent years, more White Americans have become aware of the observance of Juneteenth, which has long been celebrated in the African American community. According to Ilyasah Shabazz, award-winning author, activist, and daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, the lack of knowledge stems from the intentional exclusion of accurate African American history in textbooks and K-12 curriculums across the nation.
“The omission of Black, Indigenous, Brown, Asian, and Latinx history is not incidental. These exclusions distance people from their own heritage, their own lineage, and ultimately, their own sense of self,” wrote Shabazz in Elle magazine in 2021.
“A whitewashed curriculum enforces the myth that there have never been scholars, thinkers, innovators, caregivers, iconoclasts, artists, and revolutionaries across these various identities,” she concluded.