Atlanta historian reflects on significance of Juneteenth

Johnnie Alston leads the Baltimore All-Stars Marching Unit down Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Ga. during a Juneteenth parade on Saturday, June 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

The term Juneteenth — a blend of the words June and the number 19 — marks what many consider the official end to slavery here in the United States: June 19th, 1865.

The federal holiday created last year is also known as Freedom Day.

A renowned historian here in Atlanta shared why this holiday is not just set aside for African Americans, but really for everyone.

Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, an assistant professor at Morehouse College, has studied history and African-American culture for more than 20 years.  

Sims-Alvarado says Juneteenth is a day that everyone should take to reflect on not just celebration, but also on modern-day problems that persist.

“When we look at this day, it’s not just a day of jubilee for those who were formerly enslaved,” said Sims-Alvarado. “We should also look at it as a way to address modern-day slavery in the United States.”

Sims-Alvarado is the CEO of Preserve Black Atlanta and the author of the new book: “Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement 1944-1968.”