Personal Reflections on the Meaning of Juneteenth

Every year, I feel blessed to celebrate, reflect and commemorate another Juneteenth. As a youth, I always anticipated our family trip to Belton Lake each June. It seemed like everyone we knew was there. The years have swiftly passed, and here we are, looking forward to yet another Juneteenth celebration.

Sankofa is an Akin word from the African country of Ghana that means “go back and get it.” The spirit of the word has transcended time, and if we transport ourselves back in history, we can find the true meaning of Juneteenth. For the last five years, the day has inspired my mission to research my family history.

I have discovered that my maternal, great-great grandfather, Taylor Blunson, came to Austin County from Mississippi in the 1850s. A young man of Choctaw lineage, he lived in San Felipe during a transitional time in Texas. As the unofficial capital of the colony settlement of Stephen F. Austin, San Felipe was a pivotal town in the state’s history. Today, Stephen F. Austin State Park is nestled on the nearby Brazos River. According to the 1870 U.S. Census of Austin County, Taylor was a farmer who worked hard to raise his family under tough conditions. I can only imagine what June 19, 1865, was like for him. To visualize his life and times, I have studied as much Texas history about that period as I can.

Juneteenth is a day of jubilee for former slaves of African descent, and all Texans should proudly celebrate it as uniquely ours. Juneteenth means so much to so many, not only in our great state, but the entire country. For me, it means to “go back and get it,” to learn about and appreciate our freedom while enjoying fun, family and the telling of our family’s history.

Come out this weekend and enjoy the Juneteenth activities at the Lincoln Recreation Center presented by the City of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Brazos Valley African American Heritage and Cultural Society. The festivities include Carnival Night on Friday starting at 5:30 p.m., live music on Sunday beginning at 6 p.m., and an evening of tributes and music on Monday at 7. We hope to see you there!