Juneteenth: Celebrating Black Liberation
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is an unofficial holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. In light of the murder of George Floyd, the pressure of making Juneteenth a national holiday rises. Also, the pressure to take down confederate statues and police reform go hand in hand with the pressure in recognizing Juneteenth as an official federal holiday.
Why is Juneteenth important?
Juneteenth represents a turning point in history for the United States. It represents freedom for black people and how black people's rights have always been delayed in the US. It is more important than ever to celebrate Juneteenth as recent events show that racial inequality still exists in the United States and to deny or ignore these societal issues would be ignoring an entire section of US history. The decades after the end of the war would see a wave of lynching, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws take root. It wouldn't be until 1964, 100 years after the civil war, segregation would end in the United States. The disproportionate impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, and a lack of economic investment followed. These impacts still affect black people to this day.
Texas & Slavery
Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn't until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer." -General Granger
Today, Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia mark June 19 as a state holiday or observance. Despite a push by activists over the years -- Juneteenth still is not declared a federal holiday. And, throughout its history, it has often been overlooked by non-black Americans.
How to celebrate
Throughout history, many people have celebrated Juneteenth with festivities like parties, picnics, and gatherings with loved ones. This Juneteenth, we can all do our part in educating ourselves on systemic racism in the United States, and push for progress. We can learn about black culture and/ or inform ourselves by keeping up with current events and speak up when we see injustice.
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