So this might be the first of hearing about Juneteenth (June 19th) which is today. What is it? Let’s find out because it’s important in Black History, and with everything happening in recent weeks, we need to learn more to do our part in dismantling racism. So let’s get into it
Juneteenth is one of the oldest unofficial holidays celebrating the commemoration of the end of Slavery in 1865. It is mainly celebrated in the south as a state holiday (correction there are 47 states that have declared it a State Holiday and Washington D.C) but this year in 2020, Governor Cuomo of New York has declared it a state holiday as well. It is also known as the Emancipation, Freedom or Jubilee Day.
Abraham Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves, it was introduced on September 22, 1862 but went into effect on January 1st, 1863. However it took two and half years for Major General Gordon Granger to reach Galveston Texas with his troops to announce that the war had been won and that slaves were freed. They landed on June 19th, 1865 to bring the news. However, with so little Union Army, they had difficulty enforcing the Proclamation. Those that were emancipated and able to, left for neighboring states and for the North, where they can get their first taste of freedom.
In the early 1900s, the celebrations began to cease as more moved towards cities with the Great Depression and less emphasis on former Slavery within schools. With parents working, they couldn’t as easily continue teaching at home unless it fell on other holidays or a weekend.
It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement beginning in the 1950s, that people began celebrating again. With protests in the 1960s in Atlanta and Washington DC, showing their support for the Black community and demanding equality.
On January 1, 1980, African American State Legislator Al Edwards, pushed and succeeded for Juneteenth to become a state holiday in Texas, with other southern states following.
How it’s Celebrated
Like so many holiday, food become an important feature. Barbecue pits with grilled meats like Lamb, Pork, and Beef were used in celebrating, they weren’t eaten everyday like now so it was perfect for a time like this. Strawberry Soda pop also became popular for celebrating.
During the first few celebrations, some slaves would toss their ragged clothing and wear clothing taken from their former masters. Others wore traditional clothing from their home countries if they had access to it.
In more recent years, Organizations on the local and national level have hosted celebrations and educational activities for Juneteenth, with sponsors from the Smithsonian and Henry Ford Museums, among others, to continue to work and education.
You can learn a lot more about Juneteenth below
Juneteenth.com, they also have locations on celebrations.
And there are so many more
There is so much more we need to learn and work on when it comes to equality.