Sharing Their Thoughts on Juneteenth, Solidarity Team Members Melanie Humphries and Jasmine Vincent


We asked Melanie Humphries and Jasmine Vincent to share their thoughts regarding Juneteenth. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, enslaved people were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Melanie: I am married with three children and five grandchildren. I’ve always lived in Kokomo and worked with Solidarity Community Federal Credit Union for 41 years, currently as the receptionist/operator. I am also a union steward and very active with the union. 

Jasmine: I’m 25 years old and have lived in Kokomo for most of my life, where I also attended high school and graduated from college. I have been at Solidarity for almost two years and love my job. Outside of work, I enjoy serving at my church, spending time with family and finding new adventures with my two best friends. God and family are the two most important pieces in my life.

What is the importance of recognizing Juneteenth?

Melanie: Recognizing Juneteenth is very important to me. It is a celebration of freedom for Black people who were enslaved in this country. Black history has been watered down in our educational system, if taught at all. I didn’t learn about Juneteenth in school and had to gain insight through other avenues. Realizing that my people were not free when the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776 makes me think about the 4th of July celebration in an entirely different way. It doesn’t represent freedom to all Americans.

Jasmine: It is important to recognize Juneteenth because, for so long, in many places, it was unheard of. In all my school years, no one ever taught me about Juneteenth. It isn’t just a “Black holiday.” It is a celebration of the ancestry of the people you go to school with, worship with, work with and see daily. Even if a person does not celebrate Juneteenth, the least they can do is recognize and respect it. Juneteenth is a part of history, and although it is still an uphill battle, we can celebrate the fact that there was finally a chance at freedom for all people.

What does Juneteenth tell us about cultural values in America?

Melanie: It tells us that cultural values should matter. Celebrating our culture and recognizing our struggle as Black people validate who we are as Americans.

Jasmine: Juneteenth being recognized as a federal holiday is a step toward valuing black culture, but we still have a long way to go. It has taken a long time for America to respect our culture at the magnitude it should be. We often do not value the culture of minorities until it becomes “mainstream.” Unfortunately, many black creators do not get the credit they deserve because they were not the ones who made a trend popular, and black inventors don’t get credit for their innovative work. Valuing culture should include giving credit to the people in which the culture is rooted. When we value the cultures of others, we take time to learn and ask questions. I don’t think we talk about Juneteenth enough. There are still people who do not have a clue what it is or why we celebrate.

Why is it so important for people to share their cultures?

Melanie: Sharing culture should open communication between people to bring awareness, not assumptions or stereotypes, about people who are different from them. We are all human beings connected in different ways. Having an understanding, connection and validation that makes lives better and brings much-needed change to this country.

Jasmine: Sharing cultures provides empathy and appreciation. People get to see what is important to you and, most notably, why it is important to you. When we share our cultures with others, we often find that we are more alike than different. Sharing our cultures also gives us a sense of pride. I am proud to be a black woman, period. I wouldn’t be anyone or anything else even if I could.

Why is it so important for people to share their cultures?

Melanie: Juneteenth has only been celebrated in certain parts of this county. Now that it is a Federal Holiday, I hope that Indiana will embrace and honor this holiday. I want to make this a traditional celebration for my family and be involved in the community events for Juneteenth, along with teaching my grandchildren about their Black history.

Jasmine: Now that I am an adult and know the importance of the holiday, I love celebrating it. I have been fortunate to attend several Juneteenth festivals for the past few years. The black community takes it up a notch every year, and this year is no different! I am happy that, finally, we are priding ourselves on celebrating the excellence of black culture. Because of recent events I have seen, my new tradition will be educating at least one person on what Juneteenth is and why it is important. People who KNOW better can DO better.

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