Full circle part 1: a new (holi)day
Mid June means something to some people.
There are some students (K-12) at this time who are a few weeks into their summer break while others are counting down the days on the calendar when they can join them. For others, it's time on the beach to time at home.
And for me, it's experiencing a long overdue "full circle" moment in discovering and rediscovering where it all started.
While the Southeast is home and the Northeast is where I am raised, it's really the Midwest where it all started.
While my time there is brief (as my K-12 "career" is Jersey through and true) and akin to a few blank or missing pages in a book, it's still a place of significance and intrigue. Ranging from the people I know there and those I get acquainted with, Central Illinois is a place that starts off as a blip on the screen and during my extended time there, evolves (and still is evolving) into a place with a bigger presence and visibility.
While not the biggest piece of the proverbial puzzle, but it's noticeable enough for you to see it fits somewhere.
It's part trip down memory lane as well as embarking on a long, overdue journey. And to think a catalyst for my extended time there is influenced by a just-recognized holiday whose path is similar; it's known to some, but to many, it's a work in progress, including the primary demographic for which it actually recognizes.
Let's go and see what we come up with.
June 18th, 19th, and Juneteenth
Juneteenth, which is passed via the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (June 2021) and signed into law by President Joseph Biden as a Federal Holiday (on June 19, 2021 - click HERE for additional information), finally gets formal recognition (although at that time, there are 47 states who recognize the day). On January 1, 1863, via the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery is made illegal in secessionist states (as the Civil War is taking place at this time). However, in Texas, notification is not learned or realized until 2 years later. Fast forwarding to June 19, 1865 (nearly 2 months after the Civil War concludes), Major General Gordon Granger informs those in Galveston, TX of the proclamation (made by President Abraham Lincoln). Given enslavers are responsible for notifying those who are enslaved of the changes, there are a significant number of those who did not comply with the directive, and while Texas is the first state to recognize Juneteenth, the official day those in Galveston are freed does not take place until 1866 (click HERE for related information).
And then, by happenstance, just as people are discovering and rediscovering the holiday and its origins, so too am I able to do so when it comes to Central Illinois in the form of two Juneteenth events and time with the faith community.
June 18, 2022 is more than discussing my literary work at the Juneteenth Festival at Miller Park.
It's about the sharing, exchanging, and engagement. It's about the connections made and experiencing individual and collective growth of a different kind. It's about relating with an ever-present community that to some is hidden in plain sight, yet growing and being more recognized, respected, and appreciated simultaneously (click HERE to find out more).
And to be honest, it's an exhilarating experience.
And that's just the start (click HERE for the recap).
Thanks to the Hunt for Foundation based in nearby Lincoln, IL (about a 35 minute drive away from Bloomington, IL), it's another opportunity to capture the experience via the lens of the "Heart of Illinois" from an event birthed deep in the Heart of Texas.
Their event on the very next day (June 19, 2022) is just as groundbreaking, thought-provoking, and community building focused. And it's much needed given the closing of Lincoln College, which closes just a month prior to the event after nearly 157 years of being in existence (click HERE to learn more).
Like its Bloomington peer, it's more than just informing and educating. It's more than just drawing connections.
It's about the seed-planting, perspective changing, and constructive energy to simply heed the call (click HERE for our event preview).
And I'm grateful to be one of the people to "dial up" not only for the holiday, but for any day, including another day to tread where I haven't, yet clearly should, as it's where it really all begins (to view the complete talk, you may watch the video below):
Circumstance? Just one of those things? A long overdue time to "see about" things on the hidden home-front.
You can say that, but smack in the middle is time to connect with the faith community.
Prior to the time in Lincoln, the time spent at the Alpha and Omega Church of the Apostolic Authority (satellite location in Bloomington, IL) is yet another way to come together. From the pastor to the guest speaker, it's a reminder of stewardship, outreach, and service is active and not sedentary. In giving back, you gain and grow, and are reminded of the resource you are and can yet become and be for someone, essentially anyone for that matter.
In the course of 48 hours, the impact made around me and in me is beyond immeasurable. It's reinforcement of things learned and known, yet tapping into elements of the great unknown. It's part being a stranger given the time away and limited time spent there, yet being right at home as this is where my story begins.
One written and one yet to be written.
And these are reflections from the first days.
You can go home again, and while you measure how far you've come, you can be equally or more excited about what you are embarking on.
Notes: Photos and video are recorded by Andrew Snorton
Photo grid 1: The photos are a compilation from the Juneteenth Event on June 18, 2022 in Bloomington, IL at Miller Park.
Photo grid 2: The photos are a compilation from the Juneteenth Event on Jun 19, 2022 in Lincoln, IL as well as via the Alpha and Omega Church of the Apostolic Authority (satellite location in Bloomington, IL).