African American communities have been observing and celebrating Juneteenth for generations. It commemorates the actual freeing of enslaved people, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
But most kids in public schools don’t learn that material. They are taught the basics about Lincoln releasing enslaved people from bondage, and they learn about the impacts of slavery on society.
“I think we need to do more, the current events around us tell us there has to be a greater awareness of what the struggle has been,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Carvalho told us Juneteenth is not even mentioned in the Florida Sunshine State Standards, which is the basic curriculum for all public schools in the state.
“Yes, the teaching of slavery, the teaching of America history, the teaching of the Emancipation Proclamation and the signature by Abraham Lincoln are reflected, but the special significance of Juneteenth is not something that is currently reflected as a mandatory standard in the state of Florida,” Carvalho explained.
Juneteenth is also not part of the AP United States History course, the most advanced history course students can take in high school nationwide.
“I think in Broward County, we’ve come a long way, previously it was not part of the curriculum,” said Broward County School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood.
Osgood said teachers in Broward are taught, in professional development classes, how to teach Juneteenth on their own at all grade levels. The holiday is also part of the African American history elective class in high school.
Osgood agrees with Carvalho that current events show the need for more education.
“Some people still don’t understand why Black people are so hurt and why they’re so angry, we’ve been fighting since the 1800’s for equality and equity,” Osgood said.
Osgood says Juneteenth provides a teaching opportunity for everyone to learn about African American history and how the impact of slavery has effected American society to this day.