In preparation for Juneteeth, Habitat for Humanity sat down with Eugene Estelle and Rossetta Trammel and asked them to share with us some thoughts on what Juneteenth means to them and how Habitat can help get the word out about this important celebration in the future. We had a great discussion and wanted to share some highlights with you.
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Juneteenth Highlights Transcript
Introductions and Initial Reflections
Darcie: Good afternoon my name is Darcy I’m with Habitat for Humanity at Madison and Clark Counties. As you all know, tomorrow represents Juneteenth, and it’s a significant event, so we thought as a staff we’d take some time to reflect on what this means to us. We’ve actually invited a couple of our nearest and dearest partners here today to offer their insights on what this day means to them. So I want to first introduce Eugene Estelle. He is a board of directors member and with that, Jean, do you want to maybe start off with a little bit of background on yourself?
Eugene: Yes, my name is Eugene Estelle. I am a member here at Habitat on the Board. I am retired from Sherwin Williams after 39 hours.
Darcie: So, Jean, can you offers a few insights on what Juneteenth means to you?
Eugene: Juneteenth means a whole lot. I just think that with the situation of things going on now in the world, if you just sit and just think things out, you know. We all need to get along together. This this the key to everything. Like it’s been said by my pastor at church, until the hearts of men and people change, there’s never going to be any change.
Juneteenth means a whole lot for slavery, that they were free. They said how come some states really didn’t know. It was because, well, I guess the message back then was hard getting the word out. It still seem like it’s hard getting the word out, and for people to understand that we’re all in this thing together. We’re all here the in the United States and, that’s what it’s all about.
I can tell you one little story that really stuck with me. It’s been several years ago, and this gentleman’s deceased. He was in the war—the Korean War— he said when he got back home, he said he’s seen all this “I can only go this place and I can only go that place.” And he said, “Here I am have been fighting side by side with soldiers, and we’re all together, but when I get back home we are all separate again.” So you know that gives you something to think about. We just need to learn how stay together and get along. This that’s
the whole thing to it right there.
Darcie: Rossetta Trammel is one of our Habitat home owners, and she flies a flag for Habitat each and every day for us. She’s a wonderful person! Rosetta if you could offer us a little bit of your background and then maybe your thoughts on what Juneteenth means to you.
Rossetta: I came to Kentucky in 1978 from Ohio. We did not have a lot of what is going on now some diversely. In Ohio, we were more or less just everybody together, but I think it is a good thing after we did learn about it…skin is not a sin. I’m so thankful that Habitat for Humanity does not go on the color of your skin. If they did, in my house I wouldn’t be in.
Darcie: What do you think we can do as an affiliate to kind of push forward with what you said earlier about “let’s just keep pushing forward, let’s treat each other equally, let’s just do the right things and do it together.” Do you have any insights on what we can do to forward that cause?
Eugene: I guess you could say maybe educate in the black community. Just let them understand the inside and out of what it would actually take (to partner with Habitat). I don’t know how many have come before to find out “how do I get housing” or “what I need to go about” or “what’s it all about.” I can speak about it in the church and with different ones that I’ve seen, but I think maybe a lot of people really don’t realize what it’s all about and what it would take.
Rossetta: I can step on that one with all fours, and I still tell the story of me and Habitat—what we did. We were told fill out an application. Everything takes time, and at that time there were 200 people who had applications in for our housing project. There were six houses, three here and three in Berea. You filled out the application. It did not ask are you black or white. It asked why are you wanting a Habitat house and so on and so forth. I was very well blessed. Out of all six houses that got built that year, two hundred names were put into a jar. Six names were pulled out, and it didn’t say, “This is a black one. This is a white one.” It was fair and square, and I tell people now who still asked me, “How can I go about getting a Habitat house,”…go fill out an application. It’s as simple as that. Let it be known that you want a Habitat house. You need the house.
Darcie: Does anyone have any other thoughts?
Hope: As we start recognizing Juneteenth as more of a holiday — Kentucky and Habitat— what kind of events or what are some good ideas? How, as an affiliate next year can we celebrate this day?
Eugene: If you would get the word out that Habitat is celebrating—and wants to celebrate this—I think it would give indication that you are doing something. To be honest with you I don’t know how many people are actually aware of this date—of what it really stands for— outside of maybe hearing it on the TV. Now from my recollection, I think this is the first time that I’ve heard of anything of this nature being done on this date around here for this. So to me, that is a step forward, and maybe for next year we can get the word
out and tell them this is the date and Habitat is doing something like this.
Rossetta: Keep repeating it. Keep putting the word out there. Keep putting the word out there, because there are several people here in Richmond who would be more involved if they knew what they were gonna be involved in. Some of them know and some of them don’t. Some of them don’t know when to go. Call the office Go by the office. Maybe you might have a suggestion that they would be able to use to help along with it. I continue to agree with Eugene. Some people don’t really know what the date is celebrated for.
Let us know we have a holiday coming up. This is something that has been going for generation, generation, generation, and now it is finally time for you to know about it. Get busy.
Darcie: Any final thoughts from our wonderful guests today?
Eugene: Well, for me personally, I just thank the Habitat for recognizing this day. I really think that this could be a stepping stone for something from here forward to keep going— just to let people know that there is a recognition of this day. Once again, I hope that you do next year come up with something and to keep it going and just to let people know.
Rossetta: I think it’s a blessing that this particular event of us being here to learn a little more about Juneteenth and what it represents. It’s a true blessing because each one of us here, I do believe, is taking something away from here that we can pass on to someone else. It’s a wonderful blessing to know that Habitat is making a step to help.
Darcie: All right, well thanks so much to you both for joining us today and thanks to all of you for taking some time to sit back and have this discussion. I think it’s the start of many great things to come, so thank you again and everybody be safe.