As an African American, this holiday is very significant because the fight for freedom is the most important fight for my culture and my people. Without basic freedoms and rights, you do not have the ability to pursue happiness. It is impossible, as Americans, to live up to the true meaning of our creed without that ability.
I first became aware of Juneteenth and its significance while in my African American Literature class in high school. Since that time, there have been many books, articles, and publications dedicated to commemorating this occasion. Personally, this holiday means a great deal to me because each victory — whether it is celebrating a holiday such as this or legislative actions — brings us a step closer to becoming a more perfect union.
With all of the things taking place politically in America, this holiday is becoming increasingly more important to celebrate. The basic ideology that we are fighting against is anti-freedom.
There is a strong connection between the fight that Juneteenth inspires and the Music for Social Justice series because, ultimately, all of the episodes speak to freedom and equality, which is a basic, intrinsic right. It is my hope that the audiences who view this series will either be inspired, rejuvenated, and/or encouraged to fight for freedom — that viewers come to a greater understanding of the fact that until we are all free, none of us are free.
Whitaker will be performing live with the Spartan Jazz Quartet at the MSU Juneteenth Celebration on Friday, June 17 at the Breslin Center.