June has always held a special place in my heart. It is the month that marks the end of a painful chapter in American history. On Sunday, we celebrate Juneteenth and remember the many who sacrificed so much to bring an end to slavery.
For as long as I can remember, my Mama and Daddy talked to my siblings and I about the meaning and the importance of Juneteenth. This was especially honored in my household growing up in the state of Texas, the state where troops arrived in Galveston to ensure all slaves would be freed.
As kids, we learned about the struggles and strife that impacted my community not just during around this solemn holiday, but year-round. More importantly, Mama and Daddy sought to inspire us and reinforce the idea that – in the United States – the American Dream is attainable. My Daddy made it clear that despite the historical injustices our community faced, excellence was still expected in our family. We were told overcoming unthinkable and unacceptable obstacles is possible.
I like to think of myself as a competitor. If I have to be at work at 3 a.m., I am at the gym at 1 a.m. If I’m asked to pack a bag and travel across the country at a moment’s notice, I’ll be the first one at the gate. Something I learned at an early age from my father was the pride and privilege that can result from putting your best foot forward. That lesson was later reinforced when I earned my spot on the basketball court.
After high school and college, I refused to take my foot off the pedal. Why? Because I wanted to make my family, my friends and my community proud. I made the choice to knock on and open doors that resulted in career opportunities, travel destinations and lifelong relationships that I would have never imagined while walking the halls of Garland High School in Texas.
My journey has certainly made Mama and Daddy proud, I think. (I say that because they are never satisfied.) Kind words in recent months from friends, teachers and others have energized me more than they can possibly imagine. This February, Fox News announced that I would be hosting a new program on the channel, “Lawrence Jones Cross Country.” In the network’s own words, I became the youngest Black solo host in cable news history.
It hit me. Just as it did the very first time I walked into my beautiful new studio. My name was on countless monitors and it was a moment I will never forget. Without hesitating, before the cameras started rolling, I pulled out my phone to take a video. The video wasn’t for me, it wasn’t for social media, it was for Mama.
I remember when my very first show ended, I exhaled, I smiled and then my phone buzzed. It buzzed a whole lot. But one message caught my eye. It was from my top adviser and very first boss – Mama. She told me she was crying tears of joy and that she was proud.
This moment would have never existed had it not been for the perseverance and passion of some of my heroes. Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington are two who have especially inspired me. Douglass believed in the idea of America even when we fell short. That didn’t mean he didn’t hold our leaders accountable even his own side. He was a patriot and as bold as a lion. Washington believed that true freedom was economic freedom. They may have bombed and burned down Black Wall Street, but Black Americans rose from the ashes.
Somebody complimented me recently and said I have a lot of energy. They wondered, “When do you sleep?” And even asked, “Why are you always smiling?” The answer is because I strive to make the trailblazers that came before me proud. That includes not only the iconic names we read about in our history books, but the unforgettable influences who have walked by our sides in our personal lives.
The commitment I make to viewers is that we will report on some of the biggest problems facing our nation, but we will also make every effort to provide solutions. Some nights we will laugh and on others, we may cry. You never know what to expect.
Juneteenth is a day of reflection for me. I have worked hard, but there’s no question the opportunities would not have existed had it not been for this historic day in 1865.
“Lawrence Jones Cross Country” airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Fox News Channel.