Elmira, N.Y. (WETM) – Juneteenth is this Sunday: a day of celebrating African American freedom and the education and accomplishments of the men and women who lived during slavery.
It’s now observed as a federal holiday in the United States as of last year, and Talima Aaron, President of the John W. Jones Museum Board of Trustees, shared what the day means to her.
“A direct link to our heritage,” said Aaron. “It’s such an important piece of history, but it helps us keep our history alive,” she added. “So, we understand where some of our traditions come from, and why they exist,” Aaron said.
Ernie Davis Park will welcome all walks of people to honor and celebrate those who paved the way for freedom, equality, and a means to tell the stories that otherwise would not be the case Aaron said.
“Number one, Black History is American History,” said Aaron. “I know we separate things so we can identify it, because there was so little mention of us in the evolution of this country,” she added. “It’s absolutely important to understanding why we are, how we are, where we are now,” Aaron said.
Aaron stated the impact that Juneteenth exemplifies.
“I think it’s important for them to understand why it exists,” said Aaron. “It also explains some of the basis for race relations, and so on, and it’s part of that national conversation,” she added.
A history that runs deep here in Elmira with the likes of a notable figure in the community, John W. Jones.
“This is a man who escaped slavery in Virginia, settled in Elmira, and then within a year or so of living here, became a central figure for the Underground Railroad in Elmira,” said Aaron.
Aaron said that Jones, along with the help of other abolitionists, would go on to help hundreds of people.
“Over a nine-year period, he helped 800 people safely reach freedom,” said Aaron.
Aaron said she’ll honor the day and wants all people to know about the rich history of Juneteenth.