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Juneteenth: A day of hope for a better future for Black Arkansans

Juneteenth is getting recognized more in Arkansas, but the day is more than just a celebration of the end of slavery.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — There has been unrest in the United States since George Floyd and countless other Black men and women lost their lives at the hands of police.

Now, Juneteenth is upon us, which gives us a reflection of how far we have come, and how far we need to go.

June 19, 1865, is the date the final slaves in the United States were told they were free. 

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"Of course, they had been free two-and-a-half years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation, but it took that long for the Union Soldiers to get to Galveston," said Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's Executive Director Christina Shutt.

It was the beginning of hope. 

The hope for equality, hope for civil rights, hope for a brighter future.... but more than 100 years later, African Americans are still fighting for that hope.

"What will stand the test of time is, where we do we go from here?" says Shutt.

"What are the structural and systemic policies that change? Dismantling racism, dismantling the -isms of our world are about dismantling structural oppression that keeps marginalized people down," said Shutt.

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Making the importance of Juneteenth even more clear; it is bringing hope when it's needed most. 

"We know things aren't equal and things aren't equitable in this country," said Shutt. 

"Juneteenth is an opportunity to both celebrate how far we have come as a country, but also where we need to go; the hope for a brighter tomorrow and a better day."