What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the freedom of all enslaved Africans in the United States. On June 19th, 1865 the last enslaved Africans were freed in Galveston, Texas. Despite Abraham Lincoln ratifying the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, and the law going into effect the following year. Many slaves living in the south were unaware that that law was passed.
Most of the fighting during the Civil War did not occur in the state of Texas. Therefore, Texas became one of the most isolated slave states without union soldiers to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. On the first Juneteenth in 1865, general Gordon Granger and his army of two thousand troops informed slaves in Galveston, Texas that they were now free. This day is widely celebrated and known as Jubilee Day in Texas.
Juneteenth is recognized by many as the official day of freedom for African-Americans living in the United States. Today, every state with the exception of Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota recognizes Juneteenth as a ceremony observance or a holiday, including Washington DC.
Although Juneteenth isn’t officially observed as a national holiday Black Americans find ways to celebrate the holiday. The holiday is usually celebrated with cookouts, parades, beauty pageants, and picnics. Activities held during these celebrations include storytelling, live band performances, and barbecuing.
3 Inspiring Lessons from Juneteenth
How To Be Resilient
Juneteenth occurred 155 years ago and African-Americans in the United States are still fighting for freedom and marching for equality. As chattel slavery became illegal it was quickly replaced by mass incarceration. Currently, in the United States, across all 50 states, citizens are marching in protest of the police shootings of unarmed Black citizens. Juneteenth shows that African-Americans will withstand and preserve through all obstacles together.
Information is Invaluable
Juneteenth is rooted in the fact that enslaved Africans were not aware (at no fault of their own) that the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect. Now African-Americans have a responsibility to take advantage of all educational opportunities and resources available to them. True freedom starts with the freedom of the mind.
Peace Takes Priority
It is important to free yourself from physical, mental, financial, and emotional constraints. Black Americans are already oppressed by systemic racism so it’s important to control all other aspects of life. Though Juneteenth occurred 155 years ago and Black Americans have come a long way there is still a long journey ahead.