June 18, 2021 by Ashley Scott
We are overjoyed and honored to celebrate CTEDU graduate and Miss Hawaii USA 2020, Samantha Neyland, for her enduring hard work, heart, and dedication in leading the effort to make Juneteenth an official statewide holiday in the State of Hawaii! SHE DID IT! We want to fully recognize this momentous achievement and are so proud of all Samantha has given to her community, state and country.
This ruling was made official on June 16, 2021, just hours before the US House of Representatives voted to make Juneteenth a Federal holiday, on June 17, 2021.
A brief history of Juneteenth: Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on paper in 1862 and enacted in 1863, it was two years before slavery in America actually ended. It wasn’t until soldiers arrived at one of the last strongholds in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the enslaved discovered they were indeed free.
Juneteenth, a combination of June and 19th, honors this moment in history each year. Steve Williams, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation president, shared in an interview, “Juneteenth is a unifying holiday. It is the completion of the celebration of freedom in America.” Juneteenth isn’t a holiday for just Black Americans, but all Americans.
As awareness of Juneteenth grows, and more meaningful conversations are taking place, more communities and workplaces are honoring the day to promote themes of diversity and inclusion.
“By teaching our future generations the history of our country, by teaching them Juneteenth, we are giving them the information they need to understand our past, see how it affects our present, and use it to change our future. By forever acknowledging and memorializing Juneteenth, we are helping to move our society forward to a more vibrant and inclusive Hawaii.” – Samantha Neyland at the Juneteenth Hawaii official state holiday bill signing
Samantha, you are a world changer and we see you, honor you, and celebrate you!
Q&A with Samantha Neyland
CTEDU: What was your greatest takeaway from this experience?
Samantha: My greatest takeaway from this experience has been the discovery and clarification of my coaching business. I feel so strongly about making the world a better place and I know there are other young women who want to make a difference but lack the courage and confidence to challenge themselves. My dream is to coach young women who are ready and wanting to break the rules and change the world. Had I not spent the past year leading this movement, I might not have discovered this about myself.
CTEDU: What inspired you to fight for this?
Samantha: I knew this fight would be a long uphill battle but I always knew it would be worth it. I never learned about Juneteenth growing up and had I learned earlier, maybe I would have started this effort earlier. Recognizing Juneteenth felt like a no-brainer, an oversight by the State of Hawaii. I refused to accept that I, as the first African American Miss Hawaii USA, was representing a state that didn’t stand for equality and speak out against injustice. I felt passing this law was essential if we were to uphold our legacy as the Aloha State.
CTEDU: What impact do you hope this makes on others?
Samantha: I hope this inspires other young women to use their voices to make an impact in their community. Our younger generations are our future and the more we empower them to speak up, the brighter our future will be.
To learn more about Samantha, please follow her on instagram at @samanthaneyland
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