BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Baton Rouge celebrates a national holiday, Juneteenth, and mental health addresses.
“Juneteeth is American history,” says Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
According to Founder-President, Bea Gyimah of the America My Oyster Association, she says, “Every one of us, needs to know the importance, the value, and the history of Juneteenth.”
Local leaders and members of the black community stress the importance of this holiday.
In 1866, it was originated in Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of those who have been enslaved. Now it’s celebrated annually, and has become a Federal holiday.
“It has a very deep meaning for me, African Americans make up the fabric of our city,” says Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome.
According to areas, they show that the population of Louisiana is 4,648,794, and Baton Rouge’s population is 228,649. They also found that over 55.16% of the population is African American in Baton Rouge.
Juneteenth is known as “Freedom Day” to many members of the community. They say it represents the similar holiday of the 4th of July.
Local leaders and the community gather for the Mayor’s Juneteenth Festival. After sending off the Juneteenth float, many people gather to meet at BREC’s Gus Young Park to spread the word about the Juneteenth Unity Caravan. While this day represents rejoice and freedom to many, Mayor Broome and Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr., wanted to bring light to another subject, community issues.
Mayor Broome explains how having a mental health panel and Juneteenth are tied together.
“Very prevalent issues such as economic development, violence, mental health, and so this was a compliment to many of the conversations around the issues that we are having during our Juneteenth celebration,” said Mayor Broome.
There are many reasons to celebrate this special day, including a million-dollar check from Congressman Carter, to help towards our city’s community struggles. It’s one of his ten projects he’s allowed to fund yearly. Troy A. Carter was not able to make today’s event but will be involved with how to spread this one million dollar across the city. The Mayor and Congressman still have lots of planning to do when it comes to distribution.
“We start to tell the story, of my people’s story of this country and things we overcame for centuries,” said Program Manager of LSU Museum of Arts Brandon V. Lewis.
Lewis talks about how far the black community has come. He says that Juneteenth means perseverance to him.
Lewis also discusses one important issue that needs to be addressed. Art class has been close to non-existent in many schools for the past several years. He believes many children, even adults, need to express their feelings and “get lost” in the art they create. He says there should be more programs around the city to help these young kids express themselves and get off the streets.
Bea Gyimah also expresses how far the community has come. She says, “America, all of the wonderful things, that it happens to be, and also, reflect over how far we have come as the people… collectively.”
To find out more about the Baton Rouge Juneteenth event, you can visit the Mayor’s Facebook.