Coretta Scott King, an activist, author, and the widow of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it with every generation.”
The spirit of King’s message was evident in Redlands this month, when Unity in the Community (UIC) — a partnership of local Black churches, the Redlands Police Department, and the University of Redlands — partnered on a two-day, Juneteenth celebration, marking the anniversary of when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and were able to take control of the last state that allowed slavery. Almost two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War, Juneteenth celebrates the true end of slavery in America and was deemed a federal holiday in June 2021.
The Juneteenth Freedom Awards Reception was held June 16 on campus at the U of R celebrating the theme “Building Bridges to the Generations.” At the ceremony, nine awardees were honored with the Juneteenth Freedom Award.
The honorees include:
Dr. Jennifer Tilton is a professor at the U of R who has conducted extensive research work on the history and contributions of African Americans who lived within the Redlands community.
State Assemblyman James Ramos for always recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, and continuing to uplift communities of color.
Joe Richardson, civil rights attorney, former planning commissioner, and civil rights advocate in the City of Redlands and the Inland Empire.
Travis Martinez, Redlands deputy chief of police, is a Redlands native and strong supporter of Unity in the Community Inc. and Redlands Juneteenth.
Pathway Church for its support and help to create media for the educational program, “What to do when stopped by law enforcement.” The church provided staff and its own equipment.
Kelechi Amboi, who serves on the Redlands Human Relations Commission and is a Redlands East Valley High School student representative of the Black Student Union.
Gail Howard is a Redlands native who has been a strong advocate for victims of gun violence.
Mario Saucedo, Redlands councilmember, received the Special Recognition Award for seven years of leadership as the Founding Co-Chair of UIC and for the work as founder of Common Vision Coalition.
Pastor Anthony W. Green received the Special Recognition Award for seven years of leadership as the Founding Chair at UIC and for active community work as the Pastor of The Village SBC.
Juneteenth celebrations continued with a basketball tournament held at the Redlands Community Center. On Saturday, activities, such as arts and crafts, games, shows, and food vendors, for kids and families were held at Sylvan Park. Music and giveaways were also held at the skatepark.
Christopher Jones J.D., the Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer, shared with the Bulldog Blog some of the history of Juneteenth and resources for people interested in learning more.
Bulldog Blog: Are there any details in the history of Juneteenth that should be noted?
Christopher Jones: What is important to be noted is that Juneteenth is a day when we should recognize this country’s past in all its truth. It seems, as a country, that we are at an interesting time when some want historical facts to be determined by political fiat. It is necessary that all of us continue to confront what America means to us, whether it be comfortable or uncomfortable. Ms. Opal Lee, often recognized as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” for her efforts to see the day recognized as a federal holiday, said it best when she said that Juneteenth recognizes when the enslaved in Texas were told they had been freed two years and a half years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation. “It’s not a Black thing. We are talking about freedom for everyone.” The interview that Ms. Lee did for us at the U of R is a part of our own history that I suggest to people, which is available at this link.
BB: What are some resources for people to learn more about Juneteenth or other facets of Black history?
CJ: When you ask about resources, there are so many, whether in print or online. We are fortunate here at the University of Redlands to have faculty with expertise who are resources with the courses offered, especially in our Race and Ethnic Studies department in the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition, I often point people to the site for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which puts out the theme for Black History Month each year. For Juneteenth in particular, I recommend the Juneteenth Legacy Project or Ms. Opal Lee’s site, Juneteenth FTW.
BB: What was your favorite event from the celebration at the U of R?
CJ: My favorite event would be the flag-raising. It’s probably the remnants of my military experience, but it is always a special thing for me to see the symbols, like flags. A flag-raising always gives an opportunity to reflect on the symbolism that a flag reflects. It’s a very personal experience for me, and I presume it is the same for others.
To read Professor Jennifer Tilton's Q&A with the Bulldog Blog, click this link.