Christiansburg Institute talks impact of Juneteenth

Published: Jun. 19, 2023 at 4:02 PM EDT
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The Christiansburg Industrial Institute says Juneteenth is an important day for the history of the country and its impact has roots in southwest Virginia.

“The historic Christiansburg Institute was the first high school in the region to educate the formerly enslaved,” Executive Director of CI, Inc. Chris Sanchez said.

Juneteenth commemorates when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out about emancipation in 1865.

“The state of Virginia shares tremendously in this history and locally here in Montgomery County,” Sanchez said. “We are directly connected to that narrative and then to continue that beyond emancipation into reconstruction around the 100-year history of CI.”

He says Juneteenth is a day of celebration but can also be used as momentum going forward.

“It’s definitely a celebration and a recognition of a story and a history,” Sanchez said. “It’s also a hopeful look forward because we know that there is more work to do in the area of racial justice and reconciliation around truth, telling the full story of African American history in the US today.”

Sanchez says a holiday like Juneteenth is important for recognition, but also education.

“I think there’s still a lot of opportunity for us to share the importance of Juneteenth and contextualize how that history relates to our work today,” he said.