Creating Juneteenth traditions
As a native Texan with Liberian ancestors, Jannibah Coleman's heritage gives her a unique perspective on Juneteenth and what it means for her family.
By Chelsey Sleator, Senior Manager, Communications
Considered to be the longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX, taking control of the state, and ensuring that all enslaved people were freed. The troops’ arrival was two-and-a-half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and represents the end to slavery in the United States.1
Juneteenth is an important day of celebration and reflection for many of our Black colleagues. One such person is Jannibah Coleman, a member of the Corporate Relations team and co-chair of the DFW Black Professionals at Charles Schwab (BPACS) employee resource group.
“To me, Juneteenth isn’t just about commemorating the end of slavery” explains Jannibah. “There’s a sense of perseverance and finally being in a place to be able to move forward. It’s a day when the Black community feels a sense of togetherness and we all celebrate and reflect on how far we’ve come.”
Jannibah’s heritage gives her a unique perspective on Juneteenth. While she was born in Texas, her parents are immigrants from Liberia, an African country formed by former American slaves.
“I see that legacy of courage and entrepreneurial mindset in my family,” says Jannibah of her Liberian ancestors. “But on the flip side, as a Texan, I feel a deep connection to the slaves that were freed on that day. I feel like I have a Texas-American perspective, but I also have a more global perspective. And I feel a deep connection to both.”
Jannibah loves the traditions around Juneteenth. Thinking back to years of celebrating, she has fond memories of parades, colorful attire, barbecues, and the sound of African drums. One of her favorite memories is of choreographing an opening dance number for a Mr. and Mrs. Juneteenth pageant in Lubbock, TX. In recent years, Jannibah has created a new tradition of hosting an annual Juneteenth barbecue and celebration in her home with family and friends.
“We get together and talk about issues—the places that still need improving and the things that are just what our ancestors would have wanted,” explains Jannibah. “But it’s also really fun and light-hearted. It’s also about food and music and pan-African colors and just creating a sense of community.”
Jannibah acknowledges that Juneteenth being recognized as a federal holiday in 2021 and as a Schwab company holiday in 2022 has been validating for her and other colleagues. She is looking forward to spending the day with her family and friends and is also looking forward to bringing new Juneteenth traditions to Schwab.
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