Less than 200 hundred years ago, The Emancipation Proclamation was passed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. However, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two years later, that news of the ending of the Civil War and the freeing of all those enslaved reached Galveston, Texas. On that day, when Major General Gordon Granger led his Union soldiers into town to uphold the Proclamation signed by President Lincoln, June 19 became known as Juneteenth.
“It’s not something that happened in the distant past, but in 2021 there are people who don’t know about Juneteenth. There are people that don’t understand that the freedoms that we have are very recent,” said Dr. Kristina Staples, who will participate June 26 at the first Juneteenth celebration to be hosted in Blackstone, Virginia.
Today, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Kristina Staples, DDS, has taken a community-driven approach at her new practice, Blackstone Family Dentistry, and with her participation as a vendor at the town’s first Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration. There she will offer oral health education and immerse herself, and her practice in the Blackstone community.
“I think it keeps you grounded to have a history, to know where you came from and to know what your ancestors went through,” Dr. Staples told Incisal Edge magazine in an exclusive interview.
“Honestly, it’s not that long ago that slavery ended. It didn’t happen hundreds and hundreds of years ago; not even 200 years ago slavery ended,” she added.
Dr. Staples hopes to share a message through her practice’s participation on June 26: Events like the Juneteenth celebration are designed for inclusion. It is important to have celebrations for the African American community, as well as other diverse communities within Blackstone, because all are citizens of the United States.
She believes history is important and that accurate representation matters. Dr. Staples highlighted that we cannot exclude events of historical importance because they are inconvenient, violent, or scary.
“Our histories are part of who we are, and it is important to shed light on the past since it is the foundation for the present.”
Read more here in an exclusive interview with Dr. Staples at Incisal Edge magazine.
Learn more about the town of Blackstone’s Juneteenth Celebration here.