SAN ANTONIO – Now that Juneteenth is officially a federal holiday, many celebrations were underway this weekend in the City of San Antonio and across the nation.
This year marks the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day enslaved Texans were officially proclaimed free, two-and-a-half years after the emancipation proclamation of 1863. In San Antonio, there is an entire Juneteenth Commission.
David McCary, assistant city manager of San Antonio, joined Leading SA on Sunday to talk about the commemoration of the holiday, and how the city is working to address the inequities we see across our community.
“We take a snapshot of the past, you know, keeping in mind that 156 years ago, two years prior to that for Texas, over 250,000 slaves were still in captivity. And as a part of that, we have to think about validating the past, but also what does the future look like? (July) Fourth, and when you see Juneteenth celebrations, that is not only to commemorate the past but to look beyond as to what the history can be for the future,” McCary said.
McCary said the camaraderie could be felt among the community as the city held multiple events commemorating Juneteenth.
“You know, the commemoration itself went extremely well. We were very excited for all multiple different celebrations that were in play... One of the things that is unique about this is just like the Martin Luther King March, you have the entire community sharing that. So when we have not only Blacks, Brown, Hispanics, Asians, when we talk about our LGBTQ community, white, all of us are part of the news story that we’re looking forward to being a part of and painting volume, developing that new history,” McCary said.
In and around the Alamo City, parts of the community struggle disproportionately compared to other parts, but the city said they are working to address the inequities.
“You know, one of the things that we are really looking at, and it’s been a constant for the last several years, is an equity lens. It’s so important for all 39 of our departments, for the city of San Antonio now that it’s an official holiday that was defined last year for this year. It’s so important that every department look at our services that we provide in a manner where we’re looking to liberate our marginalized community, communities of color, low-income communities. We’re looking at coming from a brave space versus a safe place,” McCary said.
McCary added that it’s not an overnight fix by any stretch of the imagination, it will take time, but he is optimistic.
“I love the fact that Juneteenth is a reflection of what we’ve done in the past. But it’s more important that if we bring our young population next generation in to help us with the solutions, it takes an entire community,” McCary said.