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Norfolk State University professor explains history of Juneteenth

Cassandra Newby-Alexander said many people are "familiar with a lot of myths of American history but not American history" itself.

HAMPTON, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation to make Juneteenth a paid, state holiday.

“It means a lot. It means a lot. It’s very emotional to me,” said Gaylene Kanoyton. “Juneteenth represents the end of slavery, but also symbolizes freedom.”

Kanoyton is Hampton’s NAACP President. She said making Juneteenth a state holiday is a step in the right direction, although she said there is still a long way to go.

“That’s just another sign that he wants to have racism eliminated from Virginia,” Kanoyton said.

On Twitter, a tweet is getting a lot of attention. It says retweet if no one ever covered Juneteenth in your K-12 career.

It has 151,000 retweets and counting.

"A lot of people are not familiar with American history. They are familiar with a lot of myths of American history but not American history,” explained Cassandra Newby-Alexander.

Newby-Alexander is the Dean of the College of Liberal arts and a history professor at Norfolk State University. She’s breaking down Juneteenth for those unfamiliar.

She explained, “The Civil War ended in early April of 1865 and yet the people in east Texas didn’t hear about the end of the war until June 19th.”

Newby-Alexander said at the time, people didn’t know the war also ended slavery.

“June 19th, they made that an important celebration because they were determined to claim their freedom even in the level of that optimism,” Newby-Alexander explained.

In observance of the Juneteenth holiday, some city offices including Suffolk and Chesapeake made the call to close on Friday.

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