The 116 Life Ep. 73: Celebrating Juneteenth

On an all-new episode of The 116 Life, hosts Ace Harris and Meah Evans are discussing the profound significance of Juneteenth and its relevance to the African American community. They also explored the complexities surrounding the celebration of Independence Day and the importance of acknowledging the full history of the United States.

The Significance of Juneteenth

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. This day symbolizes the end of slavery in the United States and is a pivotal moment in American history.

Why is Juneteenth Important?

  • Historical Recognition: Juneteenth is a day to recognize the struggles and resilience of African Americans. It serves as a reminder of the long fight for freedom and equality.
  • Cultural Celebration: It is a time to celebrate African American culture, heritage, and achievements. Festivals, parades, and educational events are common ways to honor this day.
  • Educational Opportunity: Juneteenth provides an opportunity to educate others about the history of slavery and the ongoing fight for civil rights.

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

  1. Attend Local Events: Many communities host events such as parades, festivals, and educational seminars. Participating in these events can help you connect with others and learn more about the significance of the day.
  2. Support Black-Owned Businesses: Use this day to support black entrepreneurs and businesses. This can be a powerful way to contribute to economic empowerment within the African American community.
  3. Educate Yourself and Others: Take the time to read books, watch documentaries, and engage in discussions about the history and significance of Juneteenth. Share this knowledge with friends and family.
116 Life Ep 73 alt pic Ace Harris and Meah Evans (Juneteenth)

The Challenges of Celebrating Independence Day

A Complex History

Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. However, for many African Americans, this day is a reminder of the continued struggle for freedom and equality, as slavery was still prevalent during this time.

Balancing Celebrations

  • Acknowledging Dual Histories: It is important to recognize both the significance of Independence Day and the fact that freedom was not universal in 1776. This duality can be challenging but is necessary for a comprehensive understanding of American history.
  • Inclusive Celebrations: Consider ways to make Independence Day celebrations more inclusive by incorporating elements that acknowledge the contributions and struggles of African Americans throughout history.

Personal Reflections

Ace and Meah shared their personal experiences and perspectives on celebrating Independence Day. They emphasized the importance of creating spaces where all voices are heard and respected.

116 Life Ep 73, Ace Harris alt pic (Juneteenth)

Acknowledging the Full History of the United States

The Importance of Comprehensive History

Understanding the full history of the United States involves acknowledging both the achievements and the injustices that have shaped the nation. This includes recognizing the contributions of marginalized communities and the systemic challenges they have faced.

116 Life Ep 73 Meah Evans alt pic (Juneteenth)

Actionable Steps

  1. Advocate for Inclusive Education: Support initiatives that promote a more inclusive curriculum in schools, ensuring that the history of all communities is accurately represented.
  2. Engage in Community Dialogues: Participate in or organize community discussions that focus on understanding and addressing historical and current injustices.
  3. Support Historical Preservation: Contribute to organizations and efforts that aim to preserve and share the history of marginalized communities.


This discussion between Ace Harris and Meah Evans highlights the importance of understanding and celebrating Juneteenth, while also acknowledging the complexities of Independence Day. By educating ourselves, supporting inclusive celebrations, and advocating for comprehensive historical recognition, we can contribute to a more informed and equitable society.

Key Takeaways

  • Juneteenth is a significant day that marks the end of slavery in the United States and is a time to celebrate African American culture and history.
  • Celebrating Independence Day requires a nuanced understanding of American history, recognizing both the achievements and the ongoing struggles for freedom and equality.
  • Acknowledging the full history of the United States involves advocating for inclusive education and engaging in community dialogues.

By taking these steps, we can honor the past, celebrate the present, and work towards a more just and inclusive future.

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The welcome (00:00:00) Introduction and casual conversation about birthday and health.

Growing older (00:00:54) Discussion about reaching the age of 40 and the perspective on aging.

Civil rights era (00:03:00) Conversation about the experience of growing up during the civil rights era and the impact on the speaker’s perspective.

Discovering Juneteenth (00:04:19) Personal experiences and timelines of discovering and learning about Juneteenth.

Understanding Juneteenth (00:08:12) Explanation of the historical context and significance of Juneteenth in relation to the end of slavery in America.

Challenges of celebrating Independence Day (00:14:14) Discussion about the struggle of celebrating Independence Day for African Americans due to the historical context and experiences.

Reclaiming Independence (00:19:46) Reflection on the significance of Juneteenth as a day of reclaiming independence and the struggle of celebrating independence for black people.

Celebrating Juneteenth (00:20:21) Conversation about the perception and inclusivity of celebrating Juneteenth for all, regardless of cultural background.

The significance of Juneteenth (00:21:32) Ace and Meah discuss the importance of Juneteenth and its recognition as a federal holiday in 2021.

Challenges of celebrating Independence Day (00:22:28) They talk about the challenges of celebrating Independence Day and the importance of acknowledging the full history of the United States.

Telling the full story of American history (00:23:21) The conversation shifts to the importance of telling the full story of American history, including the difficult and polarizing aspects.

Commercialization of Juneteenth (00:25:31) Ace and Meah discuss the commercialization of Juneteenth, expressing their discomfort with the commercialization and pandering by companies.

Churches’ engagement with Juneteenth (00:35:25) They delve into the topic of how churches can engage with and embrace Juneteenth, emphasizing the need for sensitivity and acknowledgment without over-programming.

Related Radio Show: 116 Life