Billy Porter, Maxine Waters & Dr. Yusef Salaam on theGrio’s ‘Juneteenth Live!’

“I celebrate my Blackness by honoring my truth," Emmy-winning actor Billy Porter said.

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As a part of our “Black and Proud” series, theGrio caught up with Billy Porter, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Dr. Yusef Salaam for Juneteenth Live!, and they each shared how they celebrate their cultural heritage. Watch their full remarks via the clip above.

“I celebrate my Blackness by honoring my truth. Honoring my authenticity. I am Black and I am proud about those very same things,” said Emmy-winning actor Porter. “Black freedom to me looks like a space in this world where everyone is equal, where the promise of equality extends to every single human being on Earth.” 

Billy Porters Maxine Waters Yusef Salaam
(Credit: Getty Images/Staci Nurse)

“I celebrate my Blackness by living my life as a proud Black woman, resisting and protesting racism wherever it raises its ugly head,” said Congresswoman Waters.

“I’m Black and I’m proud about my chairmanship of the financial services committee of the United States Congress where I have created a subcommittee on diversity and inclusion. Black freedom to me looks like an end to racism and discrimination at every level of our society.”

Dr. Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, said he celebrates Blackness by “bringing the powerful culture of Blackness to everything I do.”

He added, “Having been run over by the spike wheels of justice, the system wanted me to hide in plain sight and to shrink from life. Instead, I choose to live full, turning up my light to eradicate the darkness around us. I’m Black and proud because I know that I was born on purpose and with a purpose. What has been done to me only makes us resilient as warriors, who fight Black.

Black and proud, I wear my indelible scars for the world to see and to remind me that I am a warrior and that I survived. What freedom means to me is I get to choose. My response provides the grace and mercy from above. Remember, anything can happen to you, but it’s what happens inside you that makes all the difference.”

Juneteenth Live thegrio.com
(Credit: theGrio)

TheGrio celebrated Juneteenth in a major way this year through Facebook Live! Held every year on June 19, the holiday recognizes and commemorates the ending of slavery and is celebrated by Black communities nationwide.

The holiday is a direct reference to June 19, 1865, when the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas (two-and-a-half years later) were told that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

As theGrio‘s April Ryan reported, this year marks a special moment in the holiday’s history as President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. 

The live event featured appearances by: Sterling K. Brown, Symone Sanders, Luke James, Marsai Martin, Kandi Burruss, Grio owner and Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen, Tye Tribbett, Michelle Williams, Jordan Hull, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, Latoya Tonoedo, Kimberly Herbert, Dawn Richard, Cecilia Rouse, Madalen Mills, Vedo, Ray Chew, Lecrae, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Karine Jean-Pierre.

This story contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Jared Alexander.

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