Community commemorates Juneteenth federal holiday
Outer Range Brewing Co. and Breck Film celebrate the new federal holiday
On Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden made headlines when he signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Originating in Galveston, Texas, the day commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
While many felt that, while the move was a step in the right direction, there’s still much more work to be done in the fight for equality and equity. One such individual who feels that way is Breckenridge resident Drea Edwards.
“Some people think making Juneteenth a national holiday is skipping some critical steps, and I echo that sentiment, but I do think that it’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully this will be a good catalyst and keep that momentum going to get the actual changes that we need made happening,” Edwards said. “I don’t think you can say Juneteenth is a national holiday and give that education to people without starting to have those hard conversations about why Juneteenth exists. I see it as a stepping stone in the right direction, not that everything is over.”
On Saturday, June 19, a couple local establishments celebrated the milestone with special events.
That night, Breck Film featured a few Juneteenth-related outdoor shorts at Colorado Mountain College including “Black Ice,” “Pedal Through” and “The Mirnavator,” all of which are about what it’s like to be a Black athlete in the outdoors.
Earlier that same day, Outer Range Brewing Co. honored the holiday by hosting a hike at Miners Creek Trail. Roughly 20 attendees were asked questions by the brewery’s co-founders, Emily and Lee Cleghorn, about what freedom meant to them. The hike was followed with a reflection period on the brewery’s patio where attendees could write down their thoughts.
Emily Cleghorn said that idea for the event started last year when the Black Lives Matter movement picked up momentum.
In 2020, Black-owned Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio launched a beer called Black is Beautiful to bring awareness to the movement. The recipe was made available to breweries across the country as long as those establishments donated some of the proceeds to nonprofits that supported equality missions.
When Outer Range got involved, Emily Cleghorn said she and her husband chose to donate to Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit based in California that also has chapters in Boulder and Denver. The nonprofit focuses on making the outdoors more inclusive.
“We donated to them with the Black is Beautiful beer, but our fear was that it was very of the moment and then people wouldn’t pay attention anymore, so as we were approaching Juneteenth … we decided to reach back out to Outdoor Afro and tell them we were wanting to sponsor Juneteenth,” Emily said.
Outer Range donated $5,000 to Outdoor Afro and committed to getting community members outside for 2.5 hours, thus commemorating the 2.5 years it took for news to reach slaves in Texas that they were officially emancipated.
Outdoor Afro asked individuals to share reflections about the holiday, and written reflections collected from attendees were shared on the brewery’s social media accounts.
One of the attendees, Amanda McLamb, was a visitor from Charlotte, North Carolina, who participated in the event with her husband, Phillip, and their two daughters.
“We had heard about the event and thought it sounded like a really incredible way to start Juneteenth, especially today being the first time that it’s nationally recognized,” Amanda McLamb said.
In the future, Emily and Lee Cleghorn said they would like to keep the event going in years to come, and that they hope the now-federal holiday is a catalyst for further change.
“I think we’re gaining momentum with this becoming a national holiday and continuing the conversation,” Emily Cleghorn said. “I don’t want this to be a one and done, I want to practice what we preach.”
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