As Juneteenth nears, local Black history recalled

"In a June 19, 2020, interview with North Country Public Radio (, Margaret Washington, Cornell University professor of American history, provided welcome context on the roots of Juneteenth, as well as on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s then-recent decision to make June 19 a state holiday. Washington is also a board member of the nonprofit John Brown Lives ( based in Lake Placid.

When asked, 'Why do you think all of a sudden it’s getting this broader recognition? Is it in light of current events or has it been slowly building over time?' Washington responded succinctly, 'I think it’s in light of current events. I don’t think there was a move for Juneteenth before this. And it’s a symbolic thing. It’s almost like … an added way of saying ‘we’re sorry’ sort of thing.'"

Read the entire article in the Tompkins Weekly

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Professor Margaret Washington