Life and Religion
|What Juneteenth means to me: Young adults share opinions|
|Focus on history and social justice raises awareness|
|Published Friday, June 19, 2020 7:17 pm|
Kayden Hunt and Righteous Keitt are young black leaders striving to improve Charlotte. Hunt is a 2020 graduate of Ardrey Kell High School, and Keitt is a 2019 graduate of Phillip O. Berry Academy.
Hunt and Keitt were among those at a panel discussion called by Vance High alumnus and Grammy-nominated rapper DaBabby at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture on Juneteenth. Black Lives Been Mattered panelists included Kristie Puckett-Williams, a Charlotte activist and Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice manager for the ACLU of North Carolina, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, Mecklenburg Director of Criminal Justice Services Sonya harper, Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch, Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte City Council member Braxton Winston and former Carolina Panther Thomas Davis.
Davis made a spontaneous $100,000 donation to Puckett-Williams to help meet bail for fathers being held in the Mecklenburg County jail. Saturday at noon, they will be released in time to spend Father’s Day with their families.
“It was definitely a spur of the moment decision, but it was something that I felt needed to be done,” Davis said.
Hunt was Ardrey Kell’s student body president. She organized the painting of a rock outside the school for Black Lives Matter, including names of those killed by police brutality, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. When the rock was defaced, she and over 100 others repainted it. She will head to UNC Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar.
“When I was student body president, sometimes it felt like I had to represent a school that would never represent me,” Hunt said.
Keitt established his nonprofit Bags 4 Bagless, which assists those in need throughout the city, in 2017, less than a month after his 16th birthday. He is heading into his sophomore year at UNC.
The panel coincided with Juneteenth, which represents June 19, 1865, celebrating the end of slavery in the confederate states when word of the Emancipation Proclamation’s signing reached Texas. Slavery was abolished later that year when the 13th Amendment was ratified. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte and Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee of Texas co-sponsored the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which would make it a federal holiday.
“Juneteenth means everything to me,” Hunt said. “It’s my liberation day. It’s July 4th for a lot of other people. This means the world [to me]—to celebrate my culture. To celebrate who I am, to be who I am, is so, so important. To have that acknowledged—they’re trying to get it to a federal holiday, which I think it should be.”
Said Keitt: “Unfortunately, I was never really taught much history about Juneteenth. I’m originally from South Carolina, and then moved to North Carolina. The history of Juneteenth isn’t something that is actually taught much in our schools, and I think that’s something that hopefully we can change.”
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