Maryland Rev. shares importance of Juneteenth celebrations and ‘solidarity’ in truth

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community, reported by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

Reverend Pamela Conrad speaks with WTOP from St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 16, 2024. (Courtesy Rev. Pamela Conrad)

When the Rev. Pamela Conrad was growing up in Maryland, she had never heard of Juneteenth.

It wasn’t until she lived in Galveston, Texas, for two years as a young adult that she learned of the holiday commemorating June 19, 1865 — the date when 250,000 slaves in Texas learned that slavery had been abolished.

Conrad, who’s also the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, told WTOP of her time advocating for racial justice, including sneaking to the March on Washington in 1968 as a teenager.

The interim rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore said that experience, as well as her time in Texas, caused her to dig deep into U.S. history.

“We are all complicit as a country when white institutions have become enriched on the backs of kidnapped and enslaved people,” Conrad said.

Conrad also says that celebrating Juneteenth is more important now than ever before.

“I think it’s important to celebrate Juneteenth as an example of what can happen when we ‘a’ speak truth, and then ‘b’ band in solidarity to make sure that truth is more than just words,” she said.

Conrad also says she is aware of her place in history.

“I enjoy a lot of privilege as a person wearing white skin,” she said, adding that she’s committed to doing what she can to leverage that privilege to transform the past into “a future where we can all enjoy the promise of freedom.”

According to its website, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission focuses on efforts to eradicate racism. It begins with establishing relationships, Conrad said, not just in terms of racial reconciliation but also with people of different faiths and political beliefs.

One such opportunity will be the Juneteenth Prayer and Celebration Service on June 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Baltimore.

The event invites participants to a process procession from the Cathedral of the Incarnation to Harriet Tubman Grove at Wyman Park Dell at 5:30 p.m. before a 6 p.m. prayer and celebration service at the park.

Information on the Diocese of Maryland Truth and Reconciliation Commission Juneteenth Prayer and Celebration Service is available online for anyone who wants to participate.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up