Juneteenth is America’s newest federal holiday. It’s a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Like many American holidays, getting together with family and friends is traditional. When people gather, it’s often for a barbecue. Some of the foods served may be symbolic, such as collard greens to represent prosperity or red punch and desserts to commemorate the bloodshed suffered by the millions of people traded as slaves.
Constance Moore, President of the Bucks County Free Library Board, learned much of what she knows about Juneteenth from her family. “My father is from the South. We have our national anthem. He went to an all-Black school and an all-Black college. His mom lived next door. She was a home-economics teacher. We had no choice but to celebrate. We had to learn about everything Black. We didn’t learn that in school. He taught us.”
She’s excited that Juneteenth is now in the mainstream.
“I love it. It’s not a secret anymore. A lot of our history we had to keep amongst ourselves. When you see Black people at a barbeque, you might wonder why everyone is singing and having fun. When you look at it, you see the older generations mixing with the younger, and everyone can enjoy it,” she says.
“Now that everyone knows I can invite more people, and they’ll know what this celebration means to us. You know, it’s about the food and the music. We get to hear stories. This is an awesome experience. And I’m just happy to be a part of it. I can teach my kids, and they can teach their kids.”
In a year of diversity milestones, Constance herself became a local milestone in 2021, when she was elected as the first African American library board president in the history of the Bucks County Free Library.
An avid library supporter and true believer in the value of public libraries, Constance has served as the first African American on the Board since 2008. “Becoming the president of the library board is historical . . . Let me tell you, I went home and cried,” she says.
“It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s a great honor. I hope I’m doing my best. I hope other people, not just people of color, everybody, knows that everything I do can be done. I want to be the example to show that anything can be done.”