Healing Generational Trauma: Why Juneteenth Is More Than Just a Holiday

In this episode of Church on the Block, Pastor Phil, Pastah J, and Dr. Terence Gadsden, AKA DJ Rock On have a profound discussion about the significance of Juneteenth and its impact on the African American community. This conversation not only highlighted the historical context of Juneteenth but also delved into the ongoing effects of historical trauma and the importance of healing and resilience. Here’s a quick overview of what was discussed.

The Historical Significance of Juneteenth

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. This was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The delay in this news reaching Texas highlights the systemic oppression and greed that prolonged the suffering of enslaved people.

Personal Reflections on Juneteenth

  • Pastor Phil: Growing up in Kansas City, Pastor Phil experienced Juneteenth as a vibrant festival with jazz, concerts, and parades. He notes the increasing significance of Juneteenth in light of current events and the challenges faced by African Americans.
  • Dr. Terence Gadsden: Dr. Gadsden learned about Juneteenth after moving to Charleston, South Carolina, where he also discovered the celebration of Memorial Day to honor black Union soldiers.
  • Pastah J: Pastah J first learned about Juneteenth in college, expressing surprise that it was not part of his earlier education. He emphasizes the importance of understanding and celebrating this pivotal moment in history.
Dr. Terence Gadsden and family (Juneteenth)
Dr. Terence Gadsden AKA DJ Rock On with his family

The Trauma of Slavery and Its Lasting Impact

Delayed Emancipation and Its Consequences

The gentlemen express frustration and anger at the delayed emancipation of enslaved Africans in Texas. This delay is a stark reminder of the greed and inhumanity of slave masters, and it underscores the systemic oppression that African Americans have faced.

Internalized Trauma

  • Pastah J’s Personal Story: Pastah J shares his initial aversion to urban agriculture due to the trauma associated with images of black women in the soil, a legacy of slavery. This story highlights the importance of acknowledging and addressing the trauma passed down through generations.

Apathy and Lack of Solidarity

The gentlemen discuss the apathy of other states and the lack of solidarity in spreading the news of emancipation. This lack of awareness and action from neighboring states further compounded the trauma experienced by African Americans.

Pastor Phil, DJ Ruckus and the Firehouse Community Arts Center in Chichago (Juneteenth)
Pastor Phil and DJ Ruckus and staff of The Firehouse Community Arts Center in Chicago

Healing and Resilience

The Role of Faith Leaders

Faith leaders play a crucial role in awakening their communities to historical trauma and its impact. The gentlemen emphasize the importance of resilience and love in the face of trauma, and the role of faith in providing support and healing.

Embracing Cultural Pride

  • Reversing Shame: The gentlemen discuss the need to reverse shame and embrace cultural pride. This involves unlearning certain historical narratives and reexamining the impact of systemic oppression and racism.
  • Celebrating History: Understanding and celebrating African American history is essential for fostering resilience and pride within the community.

The Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude is highlighted as a powerful tool for healing. The gentlemen stress the need for gratitude to extend beyond individual interactions to create a culture of love and support within the community.

Dr. Terrence Gadsden (DJ Rock On) with KRS-1
Dr. Terence Gadsden AKA DJ Rock On with hip hop legend KRS-1

Actionable Steps for Celebrating Juneteenth

Educate Yourself and Others

  • Learn the History: Understanding the historical context of Juneteenth is crucial. This includes learning about the delayed emancipation and the systemic oppression that African Americans have faced.
  • Teach the Next Generation: Have discussions with children and grandchildren about historical trauma and the significance of Juneteenth.

Address Historical Trauma

  • Acknowledge the Trauma: Naming and addressing the trauma of slavery is essential, particularly within the context of the church.
  • Promote Healing: Encourage conversations about healing and reconciliation within the community.

Advocate for Reparations

  • Discuss Reparations: Federal holidays like Juneteenth should prompt discussions about the repair needed to address the racial wealth gap in the country.
  • Acknowledge Past Injustices: Recognize and address the egregious acts done against African Americans and other descendants of Africans in the United States.


This conversation with Pastor Phil, Pastah J, and Dr. Terence Gadsden provides a deep and personal exploration of the significance of Juneteenth and the ongoing impact of historical trauma on the African American community.

Their reflections shed light on the complexities of this history and the importance of acknowledging and addressing the lasting effects of slavery. By educating ourselves, addressing historical trauma, and fostering a culture of gratitude and resilience, we can honor the significance of Juneteenth and promote healing within the African American community.

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Juneteenth’s significance (00:00:12) Discussion about the significance and resurgence of Juneteenth, its celebration, and its relevance in the current political climate.

Introducing Dr. Terence Gadsden and Dr. J (00:01:50) Introduction of Dr. Terence Gadsden and Dr. J, their involvement with the discussion on Juneteenth, and their personal experiences.

Learning about Juneteenth’s history (00:04:36) Dr. Terence Gadsden and Dr. J share when and how they learned about Juneteenth’s history, its connection to African American history, and the significance of the holiday.

Personal reflections on Juneteenth (00:07:41) Dr. Terence Gadsden and Dr. J discuss their personal experiences and reflections on learning about Juneteenth, including its impact and significance in their lives.

Impact of Juneteenth’s trauma (00:20:48) Discussion on the trauma caused by the delayed emancipation and its ongoing impact on the African American community, including internalized trauma and its effects.

The significance of Juneteenth (00:21:19) Exploration of the history of Juneteenth, its connection to the trauma of slavery, and its impact on the African American community.

Longing for connection and identity (00:23:04) Discussion about the longing for connection and identity, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic and the impact of events like the George Floyd killing.

Reframing historical narratives (00:24:21) Reflections on reframing historical narratives, including the terminology used to describe slavery and the impact of historical trauma on the African American community.

Awakening the community through faith (00:26:07) Exploration of the role of faith leaders in awakening the community, addressing trauma, and fostering resilience through a theological lens.

Educating and empathizing through storytelling (00:32:36) The significance of learning and empathizing with the stories of oppressed individuals in American history, particularly in the context of educational journeys and the power of storytelling.

Reversing shame and comparative suffering (00:37:11) Discussion on the importance of reversing shame and embracing cultural celebrations like Juneteenth, as well as the need to avoid comparative suffering and instead foster compassion and understanding.

Gratitude as a tool for healing (00:41:16) Exploration of the role of gratitude in fostering healing and resilience, particularly in the context of African American communities and their expressions of love and gratitude.

Gratitude for Juneteenth (00:42:13) Discussion about expressing gratitude for the freedom of over 250,000 slaves in Galveston on Juneteenth.

Learning and Teaching History (00:43:21) Encouragement to educate children about the history of slavery and celebrate the resilience of African Americans.

Unlearning and Addressing Trauma (00:44:27) Exploring the impact of historical trauma on the African American community and the need to address and heal from it.

Emancipation and Christian Responsibility (00:45:40) Acknowledging the historical trauma of slavery and the responsibility of Christians to address the role of Christianity in justifying slavery.

Reparations and Racial Wealth Gap (00:49:14) Advocating for reparations to address the racial wealth gap and the need for repair to close the gap.

Being the Jaws of Life (00:51:03) Encouragement to be compassionate and supportive, likening believers to the “jaws of life” in helping others overcome trauma and find freedom.

Related Radio Show: CHURCH ON THE BLOCK