LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — In honor of Juneteenth, the Crispus Attucks Community Center (a program of the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County) is recognizing past, present, and future Black leaders in the Lancaster community through a series of short films.
“I think we too far overlook the reach-back,” Joshua Hunter, program director for the Crispus Attucks Community Center said. “We’re too often paying it forward but not really saying ‘thank you’ to those who have led the path or created the path for us.”
The series of short films, titled “Sincerely, Crispus Attucks,” provides a space for future and present Lancaster County leaders to pay homage to those who have led before them.
The videos, produced by MAKE/FILMS, showcase young “future” leaders reading letters to current “rising” leaders who have inspired them. The current leaders read letters to “legacy” leaders who came before them. And the past leaders read letters to future generations, offering advice and encouragement.
Hunter wrote a letter to former Lancaster City Council President Ted Darcus for one of the films.
“It was my way of honoring Black excellence but also letting him know — because I think too often people don’t know the impact that they’ve had on others, so it was very humbling for me to be able to express that out loud, to make sure that he heard it,” Hunter said.
“It’s kind of giving people their flowers while they’re still here,” Hunter said.
Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 — two months after the Civil War ended and more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — Union soldiers arrived in the westernmost Confederate state, Texas, to announce the end of the war and the freedom of enslaved people.
“I think for so long Juneteenth was just untaught, so right now is the perfect time to make sure that we are spreading that awareness but also educating folks on what it is,” Hunter said.
In addition to creating the “Sincerely, Crispus Attucks” short film series in honor of the holiday, the Crispus Attucks Community Center offers an opportunity to take a Juneteenth Pledge to “honor Juneteenth” and make a “commitment to commemoration.”
This commitment is important because “while we’ve seen some progress, we have a long way to go,” Hunter said.
In the “Sincerely, Crispus Attucks” films, future leaders like high school student Ashley Bombin note some of the progress that has been made due to the work of former leaders.
“During my childhood, no one really looked like me. When I turned on the TV, the closest thing to me was Dora the Explorer,” Bombin said. High school student Tacura Tobler says watching another Black journalist on TV was “an ‘I see me’ moment.”
Despite progress in areas like representation in media and government, former Lancaster City Council President and former Lancaster County Commissioner Ron Ford writes to future leaders, “The fight for equality and justice never ends.”
Hunter encourages people to honor Juneteenth by educating themselves about the holiday and the nation’s history and by getting involved with community events and organizations celebrating Juneteenth.