'Freedom denied and delayed': New Mexicans mark Juneteenth with prayer, protest and celebration - Albuquerque Journal

‘Freedom denied and delayed’: New Mexicans mark Juneteenth with prayer, protest and celebration

Cathryn McGill of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council holds a poster and pamphlet that will be on display in barbershops and beauty parlors to raise awareness of the 2020 Census and its importance in the African American community. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Part of Cathryn McGill’s work is to help people understand and be more proficient in a digital world.

As the founder of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council, McGill tirelessly works to get the message to the African American community in New Mexico.

These days, it’s become almost nonstop, as her phone rings constantly.

It’s a good thing because it’s about strengthening the community.

“We’re going to make it through,” McGill says of today’s changing social climate. “People are doing the best they can to keep the community informed.”

McGill is helping lead the way in educating the public about Juneteenth, which is commemorated on Friday, June 19, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the world.

“I think the issues have come to the forefront because the distractions are gone. This has always been an issue,” McGill says. “We’re focusing more on these things because that we had the luxury of ignoring before. This has become an opportunity to see what do we really want to focus on, and how do we move forward together.”

Sean Cardinalli, a local writer, says that in light of the expanding Black Lives Matter movement around the globe, it’s important this year, more than it has been in decades, for Juneteenth celebrations to incorporate an even more communal aspect. African Americans have the world’s attention, and in places all over New Mexico, Juneteenth will be part artistic showcase, part prayer service, part vigil, part barbecue, part protest, and part catharsis.

“There is a particularly keen notion that black New Mexicans, like black Americans everywhere, see Juneteenth not only historically, but through the contemporary lens where our lives are still burdened by de facto and de jure racism; it’s a reminder that African Americans still aren’t completely free. So the significance of Juneteenth’s story of delayed freedom is, understandably, even more palpably felt this year,” he writes.

As Coretta Scott King once said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”

Cardinalli says that as black New Mexicans celebrate Juneteenth this year and invite all other New Mexicans to do so as well, there is still work to be done to receive and maintain freedom.

“Coming together as a community in artful and prayerful celebration and even some protest seems a natural course of action for a deeply African American holiday birthed from freedom denied and delayed,” he says.

In this week’s Venue, we highlight voices in the black community. You can also see comments about the importance of fighting for freedom.

Respectfully,
Adrian Gomez
Venue editor


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