Dearborn, Mich., June 16, 2021 – This week, residents and staff of Beaumont Commons, Dearborn, are recognizing Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day commemorating June 19, 1865. It is the day that General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas to announce that more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free.
While the Emancipation Proclamation was ordered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and led to the proposal and ratification of the 13th Amendment to end slavery, it was not implemented in states still under Confederate control.
On June 17, residents are invited to gather in the community’s Bistro patio to learn about the significance of the day, acknowledge civil rights leaders, “march” along the campus grounds and enjoy a block party featuring many of the African American greatest hit songs.
Among those participating will be Nancy Cason, a new resident whose family heritage dates back to the days of slavery in the south.
Born in South Carolina, Cason moved to Detroit in 1962 looking for a good job.
“I grew up in a small town in Union County, S.C., where there were few opportunities for people like me,” said Cason. “I already had relatives who lived in Detroit. Many had come during World War II looking for work.”
Growing up as one of 12 children, Cason enjoyed listening to the stories about her great grandmother, who was born into slavery in 1849. She could trace the family history back to Ghana.
Cason brought those memories to Detroit where she raised four children, three sons and a daughter, while working in the dry-cleaning business and later at Frito Lay. Cason’s sons still live in the Detroit area.
Helping family is part of Cason’s history, and she returned to South Carolina for 10 years to care for her mom after her father died. More recently, she lived in Louisville, Ky., with her daughter who took care of Cason’s ex-husband.
Upon returning to Michigan, Cason moved to a senior apartment complex in a Detroit suburb.
“I was miserable. People were not friendly, and the noise from neighboring apartments was unbearable,” added Cason, who used her research skills to find Beaumont Commons, Dearborn. “You don’t know how comfortable I am. Everyone is so nice.”
Settled in her new apartment, Cason enjoys doing puzzles, Bible study, watching TV, eating in the Bistro, and using the campus library for reading and research.
“I still want to learn how to use the computer,” said Cason, who Facetimes with her only surviving sibling, a sister in South Carolina.
When asked about Juneteenth, Cason shared that it was not something she learned about in school. She added, “Growing up, our parents told us to be quiet and be careful what you say and do. It means a lot to me that I can celebrate it now. We should have been recognized a long time ago.”