Online event just before Juneteenth will honor people’s ‘hidden histories’
Stories told by people descended from Africa, the cradle of civilization, will be featured in a live United Church of Christ webinar marking the coming Juneteenth holiday.
“Juneteenth: Revealing Hidden Histories” will take place via Zoom on Friday, June 17, at noon. People can register here. It’s free.
The U.S. federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, is Monday, June 20. It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Tex., and told enslaved people of their emancipation. That was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Remembering that day “acknowledges God’s sacred people of African descent,” said the Rev. Velda Love, UCC minister of racial justice and leader of Join the Movement Toward Racial Justice. Hearing real stories from those people, she said, is a way to counteract white supremacist “efforts to suppress the truth of our history.”
Howard University Professor Renee K. Harrison will help lead the webinar. Her 2021 book, Black Hands, White House: Slave Labor and the Making of America, inspired the “hidden histories” theme, Love said.
Serving as the event’s “cultural historian,” Harrison will help elicit stories via prerecorded and live interviews. Featured speakers will focus on their own — and their families’ — relationships to the land where they live or were born, stories about their lineage, and emancipation moments in their lives.
Those storytellers will include:
- Professor Valerie Bridgeman, Methodist Theological School of Ohio
- The Rev. Yvonne Delk, retired national UCC executive and the first African American woman ordained in the UCC
- The Rev. Julian DeShazier, senior pastor of University Church, Chicago
- Thaddaeus Elliott, justice and peace policy fellow, UCC Office of Public Policy and Advocacy
- Bishop Yvette Flunder of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and City of Refuge UCC, San Francisco
- Author Lisa Sharon Harper, senior fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City
- The Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, pastor, First United Church of Tampa, Fla., and past national UCC officer
- Playwright Cheryl West
- Poet Marvin K. White, minister of celebration, Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco
- The Revs. Christine and Dennis Wiley, retired co-pastors of Covenant Baptist UCC, Washington, D.C.
Storytelling as sacred
Hearing stories that acknowledges people’s birthplaces — and humanity’s birthplace in Africa — is a sacred exercise, Love said.
“Sacred acknowledgement is celebration of cultural expressions as first peoples, free people, multilingual, multiethnic and multi-talented artisans, scientists, creators, builders, navigators, writers, thinkers and orators,” she said. “Sacred acknowledgement is remembering and honoring the generations of untold stories that are waiting to be revealed within these sacred bodies.”
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