HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Although ABC13 anchor/reporter Erica Simon was born and raised in Dallas, her father's family hails from southeast Texas, and they feel Juneteenth has special meaning. They descend from formerly enslaved Africans.
After June 19, 1865, the family of Erica's paternal grandmother journeyed up to Austin County, specifically Bellville, and created wealth for themselves, before eventually going to Houston. They bartered, bought, traded, and sold -- and even owned land and cars at a time where that was rare for freedmen.
The family of Erica's paternal grandfather journeyed up to Waller County and settled. They became cowboys and educators and were integral at Prairie View A&M University, where a number of family members attended school. Some also lived in Waller and Hempstead.
To Erica, Juneteenth is solemn because her ancestors should have never been taken from their continent and forced to build up another in the first place. It also gives her a sense of joy, celebration, and pride.
Black Americans' history started after that day, and although they didn't have a level playing field and are still dealing with discrimination and unequal resources in education, housing and the workforce, they're excelling. They built something from nothing and are resilient like no other.
Erica feels if her ancestors can overcome great odds, she too, can do anything.
She hopes all Americans celebrate the day the last of the enslaved learned they were free, and ultimately put an end to one of America's greatest atrocities.
Whether you can relate to the Black experience or not, she believes we're all brothers and sisters in humanity. When one group hurts, we all hurt. When one group is abused, we should all be offended and work to make changes. In the same vein, when one group reaches milestones and achieves greatness -- everyone should cheer.