Carol Moseley Braun of DuSable Museum reflects on meaning of Juneteenth

DuSable Museum CEO, President Perri Irmer and Professor Kim Dulaney also speak on Juneteenth
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago hasn't seen a large-scale Juneteenth celebration. Most cities and states haven't.

The movement created by the death of George Floyd has given this day renewed significance. Carol Moseley Braun, now a board member at the DuSable Museum, spoke with ABC7 about the origins of "Juneteenth" and its future.

"Unlike today where you guys have these cell phones that instantaneously communicate information, we knew about George Floyd in real-time, didn't we? News traveled much more slowly in those days so what happened was those slaves in Texas didn't get the news that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed until almost 2 1/2 years later. So 1865.,June 19th 1865, they finally learned that they had been freed," Braun said.

RELATED: What is Juneteenth? The history behind the holiday celebrating the end of slavery
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Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

The combination of that date "June" and "19th" was coined "Juneteenth." As freed slaves re-settled across the country, the annual celebration of freedom spread and grew.

"It's like the 4th of July for all intents and purposes that's how it was originally," Braun said. "It was celebrated with barbecues and fishing and family gatherings and things like that. It was a big festival."

But in the early 1900's through the Civil Rights Movement, "Juneteenth" celebrations waned. Black workers went from farms to factories and the new textbook education of their children, gave little mention of the holiday or slavery.

Now in 2020, this cultural movement has given "Juneteenth" its strongest resurgence in 155 years

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DuSable Museum President, CEO Perri Irmer talked about the future of Juneteenth in the U.S. on ABC 7 Chicago Friday morning.

"I'm so proud of your generation, younger people, because younger people have decided that we're not having this systemic racism anymore," Braun said.

Juneteenth 2020: The holiday that celebrates the end of slavery

And the social theme of protests: respect, celebrating differences, the power of unity.... Moseley Braun says, that is the spirt of "Juneteenth."

"I'm hoping this becomes a national point of celebration for the emancipation of African Americans across the board and that people use this as an opportunity to have a celebration and to celebrate who we are as a nation," Braun said.

Nearly all states recognize "Juneteenth," but there's been a push to make it a national holiday and the corporate world maybe leading the way. Google, Nike and Target are among the growing list of companies giving their employees paid time off on this Juneteenth, June 19.

The DuSable Museum will have a food giveaway outside the museum from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a Facebook Live at 6 p.m. about reparations.

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Chicago State University African American Studies Professor Kim Dulaney joined ABC 7 Chicago to talk about Juneteenth.

Chicago was home to the first all-black National Guard unit in the United States. The 8th Infantry Regiment was made up of all black soldier and officers. The army wouldn't allow them into combat with their white comrades. So instead, the "8th" infantry served alongside the French in World War I. Some of those Chicago soldiers would go on to receive France's highest military honor.

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Chicago was home to the first all-black National Guard unit in the United States.

Those Americans left items behind in France, like a dated carving of the Chicago Cubs logo, which can now be seen at the DuSable Museum. A black soldier drew it while waiting to go into battle during WWI.
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