What Does Freedom Mean To You? Black Leaders In Tompkins County Respond


BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. The holiday commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in the United States.

In observance of Juneteenth, WSKG is exploring what freedom looks like today. In this audio piece, influential black residents in Tompkins county express what freedom means to them. Most of them said freedom is equity in opportunity and freedom from racism.


Photo provided by Harmony Malone

“Not needing permission to be open and free to move throughout space or to seek someone for validation for why this is okay,” said Harmony Malone, choreographer of the dance troop UNITED, “Knowing that it’s already okay.”

“The protests right now are people saying that ‘we want to see the freedom that we were suppose to have in this county be a deliverable promise to everybody and not just for a few’,” said JR Clairbourne, Director for the Tompkins County department of Veteran Services.

Leslyn McBean-Clairbourne, the first person of color to be chair of the Tompkins County legislature. She said freedom is the emancipation from racism. “I don’t have to beg to be in my black skin and for me to be seen as human,” said McBean-Clairbourne.

“I think we still need to keep our foot on the gas, fight for freedoms that we can’t just assume they are going to come,” said Tompkins County legislator Henry Granison, “We have to keep pressing the next generation to fight for freedom.”