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Juneteenth: A Conversation with BSU Diversity Officer Steven Parker


Juneteenth celebrations happened across the country over the weekend. BSU Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator Steven Parker discussed the significance of the holiday and how he sees it impacting culture.

I would argue that due to our educational system, primary, intermediate, secondary…we’ve got some issues where we see a very whitewashed… historical perspective. And that's problematic… We learn about things like the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, January 1… And so as we think about Juneteenth, or June 19 of 1865, we're talking about over two years of time past the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and word getting word to the enslaved humans down in Galveston, Texas, that they are free...And so just imagine not only the feeling of elation and true relief, but also imagine the backlash, the backlash of that, the bloodshed of that, the time that it took to truly gain liberty.

With Juneteenth becoming a holiday…it's a celebratory experience. It is a form of restorative justice…Power is words. Sometimes we say we want action, but we forget that words are indeed action. Thoughts are what start some of these things, and words follow. And if we are intentional with our thoughts, our words too shall follow…And so we have June 10 wonderful reality. I'm excited about it, and it opens up the narrative. We're talking about an opportunity for textbooks to be rewritten. We're talking about the opportunity, like it or not, for there to be an observation of this holiday…Juneteenth is a space and time for us to reconcile with our history… our true history. It's an opportunity for us to truly admire liberation of a people and it's also an opportunity for us to truly celebrate as a unified body. To say, ‘whoa, finally, we've aired out some of that laundry. Let's have some conversation… let's begin to unify. Folks need to celebrate. Folks need to acknowledge. Folks need to recognize. #WEAREJUNETEENTH. – Steven Parker, BSU Diversity Officer/Title IX Coordinator

For the full conversation with Steven Parker, click the green bubble above!

Check out the BSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion website for the "Be You" Initiative and other projects!

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.