Juneteenth is a celebration of the end to slavery in the state of Texas and a time for families to come together and celebrate their freedom. Learn more about Juneteenth June 19th, how it began, and what it means today.
Enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free on June 19, 1865. People in cities and towns around the United States are still commemorating the event 150 years later.
Since the late 1800s, African-Americans have commemorated Juneteenth, an annual festival honoring the end of slavery in the United States.
However, there has been increasing interest in the day that commemorates freedom in recent years, notably following countrywide protests against police brutality and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black Americans.
Given the broad changes and extensive demonstrations across the United States over the previous year, and following a guilty judgment in the shooting of Mr. Floyd, the celebration continues to reverberate in fresh ways.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about Juneteenth.
What is Juneteenth?
Gordon Granger, a Union commander, came at Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, almost two months after Confederate leader Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, to notify enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and the end of the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, and General Granger’s declaration put it into force.
June 19 was chosen as the name for the holiday. “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day,” and “Emancipation Day” are other names for the day.
How will it be commemorated?
According to Juneteenth.com, which records gatherings, the inaugural celebration became a yearly one, and it expanded in prominence over time with the inclusion of descendants. The day was marked by prayer and the gathering of family. Enslaved men and women, as well as their descendants, made an annual trip back to Galveston for various ceremonies on this day.
When a group of African-American clergy and businesspeople in Houston acquired 10 acres of property and established Emancipation Park in 1872, the celebrations reached unprecedented heights. The venue was supposed to be used for the city’s annual Juneteenth event.
While some festivities now take place in backyards with families with food as a central theme, certain places, such as Atlanta and Washington, have major events like as parades and festivals involving citizens, local businesses, and others.
While the coronavirus epidemic dampened celebrations in 2020, several cities are pushing ahead with preparations this year.
Juneteenth festivities have remained popular in Galveston over the years, according to Douglas Matthews, who has helped arrange them for more than two decades.
In 2021, the city will unveil a 5,000-square-foot painting called “Absolute Equality” on the site where General Granger notified enslaved African-Americans of their liberation. A parade and picnic will be held throughout the city to commemorate the anniversary. Although the number of events and activities in Atlanta has been reduced this year, organizers have planned a parade and music festival in Centennial Olympic Park. Annapolis, Maryland; Chicago; Detroit; and Los Angeles are all hosting similar events.
There is a new national holiday
Previous attempts to make it a national holiday have failed, and few have worked harder for it than Opal Lee, a Fort Worth activist who fights for the cause.
It became the federal government’s 12th recognized holiday on June 17, 2022. The Senate enacted a bill to commemorate the day on June 15, and the House followed suit the next day. The next day, President Biden signed the measure into law, giving government employees the day off for the first time this year.
Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a holiday in 1980, albeit the distinction is primarily symbolic. Since then, at least 45 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to make the day official. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, both Democrats, approved bills proclaiming Juneteenth holidays in their states last October. Last month, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, proclaimed Juneteenth a state holiday beginning in 2022, while Illinois legislators adopted a measure making it a paid day off for all state employees as well as a school holiday. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Maine Governor Janet Mills, both Democrats, have approved measures declaring the day a state holiday.
Because of the turmoil last year, several firms decided to make it a company holiday, giving many employees a paid day off. Last year, the NFL, Best Buy, Nike, and Target all commemorated Juneteenth, as did Twitter and Square, a mobile payment business.
Why has Juneteenth become so significant?
Thousands of people took to the streets in protest after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department in May 2020. Mr. Floyd’s name, along with that of Ms. Taylor, Mr. Arbery, David McAtee, and others, became a national rallying cry for change, successfully re-energizing the Black Lives Matter movement.
That shift happened in waves. Police in Minneapolis have been prohibited from using chokeholds and strangleholds, and officers must intervene and report any use of unlawful force.
Democrats in Congress introduced broad measures to combat police misbehavior and racial prejudice. The bill was the most extensive policing intervention offered by politicians in recent memory.
Companies across the board expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and employees who insulted Mr. Floyd’s killing or made racist statements were either suspended or dismissed.
Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis cop, was convicted guilty of two counts of murder in Mr. Floyd’s killing in April.
There are some parallels between the conclusion of the Civil War and the turbulence that gripped the country, according to Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies expert at Duke University, who added that the period seemed like a “rupture.”
Mr. Neal explained, “The stakes are a little different.”
He stated, “I believe Juneteenth seems a bit different now.” “It’ll give people a chance to catch their breath after the amazing rate of change and shifting we’ve witnessed in the previous few weeks.”
In 2020, one occurrence garnered criticism
President Donald J. Trump announced his first rally after the coronavirus outbreak shut down most of the country last spring. It would be held on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a significant date and site for many Black Americans. When white mobs stormed a prosperous Black commercial sector known as Black Wall Street in 1921, it was one of the country’s deadliest outbreaks of racist violence. More than 1,200 homes were demolished, and 300 individuals were murdered by the rioters.
Mr. Trump’s detractors were outraged by the news. At the time, California Senator Kamala Harris wrote, “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists — he’s throwing them a welcome home party.” Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, responded by praising Mr. Trump’s “strong record of accomplishment” for African-Americans.
Mr. Trump declared the event would be postponed by one day shortly after it was scheduled, citing suggestions from several of his Black friends and followers.
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Juneteenth June 19th is a day to celebrate and commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. It’s celebrated in American cities with high populations of African-American residents, as well as in other parts of the country where there’s a significant population of black folks that were descended from slave owners. The history of Juneteenth June 19th is quite complex, and it involves the Congressional passage of the 13th Amendment amidst the chaos and destruction of the Civil War. The information below will help you get acquainted with this important event in Black history.