Porsha Williams wants every American to celebrate Juneteenth.
In honor of today's holiday, The Real Housewives of Atlanta star has penned a powerful essay for Today.com, urging citizens across the country to embrace June 19 as a day as important as Independence Day. For Williams, Juneteenth marks "how far we have come on this journey to equality," but also serves as reminder for "how far we have to go."
"These past few weeks of protests have again brought to light that what is going on in America is not OK. It's disappointing and heartbreaking that reminders about social injustice against Black people are still needed, but this country has needed them before," Williams, who is the granddaughter of Civil Rights activist Reverend Hosea Williams, writes. "It needed reminders in Selma, it needed reminders in the March on Washington, and today, Juneteenth, shows us that it has always needed reminders."
As Williams details in her post, "Juneteenth is a day for us to recognize the physical end of slavery in America." Juneteenth commemorates General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers' June 19, 1865 arrival in Galveston, Texas, where they announced the end of the Civil War and that those still enslaved were free.
This appearance by Granger came "more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation," Williams explains.
"It's this event, the final physical freedom of our people in Galveston, that African Americans have celebrated for 155 years. It's a day that we began our true independence and started our uphill battle for civil rights," the Bravo personality relays.
She continues, "To me, this day means that people can right their wrongs and change can be made. What has gone on in America is not acceptable. But hopefully one day it can be corrected. Maybe that one day will be in my lifetime, or maybe it will be in my daughter's lifetime."
For Williams, the recent Black Lives Matter protests have given her hope in regard to reform in the United States, especially as support grows worldwide. Thus, Williams feels this year's Juneteenth is the perfect opportunity for everyone to participate.
"Independence Day is the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress and the day we consider to be when our freedom started - which it did, for a territory," the reality TV star expresses. "But it doesn't mark the day of freedom for ALL Americans. The day that the final person in America became truly free was, and is, Juneteenth."
Per Williams, this year's Juneteenth "isn't just a Black holiday," it's a holiday that should be celebrated by all Americans.
"If you're an American, you should be proud of this day because it was revolutionary. Just like Independence Day, Juneteenth should be celebrated with the same pride and patriotism because it is about freedom for your countrywomen and men," she states.
In her conclusion, Williams encourages readers to acknowledge this important piece of history in order to learn and grow.
"It's a chance for America to recognize a piece of its history that it often tries to forget. But just like we can't forget the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless other Black lives that were lost to social injustice, we can't forget our past," she concludes. "If we forget what happened, we won't move forward. Ignorance isn't bliss. It's failure."
For more information regarding Juneteenth, click here.
You can also read Porsha's entire essay for Today.com here.
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