From left: Noah Fields, Marlene McKinney and Nathan Alleyne were...

From left: Noah Fields, Marlene McKinney and Nathan Alleyne were in the inaugural class of scholarship recipients. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca; Howard Simmons; John Roca

Juneteenth is a day Nathan Alleyne, 20, holds dear to his heart.

The celebration marks June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to tell enslaved people they were free, 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War.

“Liberation finally reached the ears of everybody who needed to hear it at that time,” he said. “So I hold the holiday pretty close to my heart, since it's like a big liberation day.”

Juneteenth, a federal holiday since 2021, falls on Wednesday.

Alleyne was among the inaugural class of eight students who received an academic scholarship from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island in 2022 as part of a celebration of Juneteenth. Then, each student received $10,000 to spend on tuition, books and other educational expenses.

The Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program for Truth and Reparations has since continued. It offered $5,000 each to 16 students last year and is awarding the same amount to 12 students this year.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, head of the diocese, said in recent years he has seen a heightened awareness to look more closely at the "overlooked history of the church's complicity in the slave trade."

“We are more coming to grips with our own history,” he said.

The scholarship, which is open to students who are descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the United States or the Caribbean, is part of the diocese’s reparations effort.

The applicants must reside within the diocese, which includes Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens, but do not have to be Episcopalian. Students could apply for a college scholarship or a trade/vocational scholarship.

“It really is a way to address the inequity that exists in many families who are descendants of enslaved people who have not been able to build equity,” Provenzano said. “This is a way of giving a financial resource to a deserving student to help launch their academic career, or [one] in a skill.”

Newsday spoke to three students from Long Island, who were among the first cohort to receive the scholarship two years ago, on where they are in life and how they consider Juneteenth.

College: City University of New York, where she is studying physics.

McKinney, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School West in 2022, had no financial aid for her first year in college, so she was relieved to hear the news from the diocese.

“It created a lot of hope for me,” she recalled. “Having to think about taking on that large sum to go to school was really daunting for me.”

McKinney plans to support Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth.

“When it comes to the ways in which slavery has resulted in institutional and systemic oppression, it's very important, especially on certain days as well as all around the year, to invest money into Black businesses because, of course, Black people were put at financial and also social mobility disadvantages,” she said. 

College: Hofstra University, where he is studying television production.

The scholarship allowed Fields to devote more time to classes, clubs and activities that interested him at Suffolk County Community College. He transferred to Hofstra University last fall. He graduated from Sachem High School East in 2021.

“I didn’t have to worry about the financial burden for school,” he said. “I joined all these organizations and clubs on campus. I was there all the time. With that scholarship, I was able to do more work.”

Juneteenth is a day of remembrance of how far Black Americans have come, he said.

“There are still battles to be won for equity and the pursuit for equity,” he said. “It’s a way to remember all the hardships that came before me and how I have to continue that fight. I have to carry on that torch for the people who fought before me.”

College: Binghamton University, where he is studying computer science.

Alleyne is acutely aware of the opportunities he's had, including the scholarship, and the summer internship he began just last week at the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation. Alleyne graduated from the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn.

“People around the world are going through a ton of different experiences and don't exactly have as many resources or as many opportunities as I do,” said Alleyne, a rising junior. “I am very grateful.”

Alleyne said he appreciates Juneteenth as a separate holiday to honor Black heritage.

“Knowing who I am as a Black citizen in America, I think [it’s] holding that identity and holding other people that share that identity close to me,” he said. It’s “recognizing how far Black people have come in this country and how far we have left to go in this country. I just take it all in and I hold it in my heart somewhere and keep on.”

Juneteenth is a day Nathan Alleyne, 20, holds dear to his heart.

The celebration marks June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to tell enslaved people they were free, 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War.

“Liberation finally reached the ears of everybody who needed to hear it at that time,” he said. “So I hold the holiday pretty close to my heart, since it's like a big liberation day.”

Juneteenth, a federal holiday since 2021, falls on Wednesday.

Alleyne was among the inaugural class of eight students who received an academic scholarship from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island in 2022 as part of a celebration of Juneteenth. Then, each student received $10,000 to spend on tuition, books and other educational expenses.

The Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program for Truth and Reparations has since continued. It offered $5,000 each to 16 students last year and is awarding the same amount to 12 students this year.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, head of the diocese, said in recent years he has seen a heightened awareness to look more closely at the "overlooked history of the church's complicity in the slave trade."

“We are more coming to grips with our own history,” he said.

The scholarship, which is open to students who are descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the United States or the Caribbean, is part of the diocese’s reparations effort.

The applicants must reside within the diocese, which includes Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens, but do not have to be Episcopalian. Students could apply for a college scholarship or a trade/vocational scholarship.

“It really is a way to address the inequity that exists in many families who are descendants of enslaved people who have not been able to build equity,” Provenzano said. “This is a way of giving a financial resource to a deserving student to help launch their academic career, or [one] in a skill.”

Newsday spoke to three students from Long Island, who were among the first cohort to receive the scholarship two years ago, on where they are in life and how they consider Juneteenth.

Marlene McKinney plans to support Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth.

Marlene McKinney plans to support Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth. Credit: Howard Simmons

Marlene McKinney, 19, of Dix Hills

  • College: City University of New York, where she is studying physics

McKinney, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School West in 2022, had no financial aid for her first year in college, so she was relieved to hear the news from the diocese.

“It created a lot of hope for me,” she recalled. “Having to think about taking on that large sum to go to school was really daunting for me.”

McKinney plans to support Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth.

“When it comes to the ways in which slavery has resulted in institutional and systemic oppression, it's very important, especially on certain days as well as all around the year, to invest money into Black businesses because, of course, Black people were put at financial and also social mobility disadvantages,” she said. 

“There are still battles to be won for equity and...

“There are still battles to be won for equity and the pursuit for equity," Noah Fields said. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Noah Fields, 21, of Holtsville

  • College: Hofstra University, where he is studying television production

The scholarship allowed Fields to devote more time to classes, clubs and activities that interested him at Suffolk County Community College. He transferred to Hofstra University last fall. He graduated from Sachem High School East in 2021.

“I didn’t have to worry about the financial burden for school,” he said. “I joined all these organizations and clubs on campus. I was there all the time. With that scholarship, I was able to do more work.”

Juneteenth is a day of remembrance of how far Black Americans have come, he said.

“There are still battles to be won for equity and the pursuit for equity,” he said. “It’s a way to remember all the hardships that came before me and how I have to continue that fight. I have to carry on that torch for the people who fought before me.”

Nathan Alleyne appreciates Juneteenth as “recognizing how far Black people...

Nathan Alleyne appreciates Juneteenth as “recognizing how far Black people have come in this country and how far we have left to go in this country." Credit: John Roca

Nathan Alleyne, 20, of Westbury

  • College: Binghamton University, where he is studying computer science

Alleyne is acutely aware of the opportunities he's had, including the scholarship, and the summer internship he began just last week at the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation. Alleyne graduated from the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn.

“People around the world are going through a ton of different experiences and don't exactly have as many resources or as many opportunities as I do,” said Alleyne, a rising junior. “I am very grateful.”

Alleyne said he appreciates Juneteenth as a separate holiday to honor Black heritage.

“Knowing who I am as a Black citizen in America, I think [it’s] holding that identity and holding other people that share that identity close to me,” he said. It’s “recognizing how far Black people have come in this country and how far we have left to go in this country. I just take it all in and I hold it in my heart somewhere and keep on.”

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