First and Foremost
The first community-wide Juneteenth Celebration in Findlay, Ohio was punctuated with plenty of learning. A tag-along with University of Findlay Buford Center for Diversity and Service staff members afforded insightful interaction. Mazza Museum’s “Miles of Bravery” collection, which features original artwork depicting slavery and the Underground Railroad, anchored the event, as did activities at various participating organizations in town.
Good to Know:
- What is Juneteenth? The day recognizes when the last of America’s slaves heard they’d been freed, an important occurrence that mainstream society has largely ignored.
- A prime example of how slow information travelled in the nineteenth century: news of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, signed in 1863, didn’t reach the western-most portion of the U.S., which was Texas at that time, until two and a half years later.
- The “Miles of Bravery” art, particularly that depicting slave children, prompts reflection and improves understanding of this historic tragedy.
- Nature was key in helping runaway slaves gain their freedom. Although it could also be a great hindrance (escapees found it difficult to traverse this area’s Black Swamp, for instance), fugitives relied upon trees, the stars, and waterways to evade their captors.
- Slavery can serve as an impetus for contemporary action, those with the Buford Center group determined during a follow-up discussion. Humanitarian actions such as which products to buy and which charities donate funding, supported by sound research based on verifiable facts from reputable sources, are always options.