Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19th in the United States. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, particularly those in Texas who were not informed of their freedom until two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday recognizes the end of slavery and the continuing struggle for racial equality.
History of Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to proclaim the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two years earlier. The delay in delivering the news was due to the fact that Texas was geographically isolated and lacked significant Union presence during the Civil War. Additionally, some slave owners withheld the information in order to continue exploiting their enslaved laborers. Once Granger arrived in Texas, he read aloud General Order No. 3, which declared that “all slaves are free.” This momentous event has since been celebrated as Juneteenth.
Impact on the Black Community
Juneteenth serves as a celebration of freedom and a reminder of the resilience and perseverance of the Black community in the face of oppression. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice and equality. For many Black Americans, Juneteenth is a time to honor their ancestors who suffered under the brutality of slavery, segregation, and racism.
Impact on the White Community
Juneteenth can serve as a reminder to White Americans of the ongoing legacy of slavery and racism, and the need to continue working towards racial justice and equality. It also provides an opportunity to learn about Black history and to acknowledge the contributions of Black Americans to the country.
Influence on Culture
Juneteenth celebrations often include music, dancing, storytelling, and the sharing of traditional foods. In recent years, the holiday has gained more widespread recognition and is now celebrated in various parts of the country. In 2021, it was officially recognized as a federal holiday in the United States.
Why Juneteenth is Important
Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the horrors of slavery and the ongoing fight for racial equality. It is a time to celebrate the resilience and achievements of the Black community, while also recognizing the work that still needs to be done to address systemic racism and inequality. By commemorating Juneteenth, we honor the past and work towards a better future for all.
How to be an Ally
As an ally, it is important to listen to and support the Black community in their efforts to commemorate Juneteenth and fight for racial justice. This can involve attending Juneteenth events, educating oneself on the history and ongoing impact of slavery and racism, and advocating for policies and actions that promote equality and justice for all.
- “Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day.” Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/juneteenth-our-other-independence-day-16340952/
- “Juneteenth.” History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/juneteenth
- “Why Juneteenth Is Important.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/why-juneteenth-important
- “What is Juneteenth? Everything to know about the holiday.” NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/what-juneteenth-everything-know-about-holiday-n1231463