Black Lives Matter, and one way we can honor them is to celebrate, liberate, and educate today, on Juneteenth. The holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This year’s celebration finds our nation in the midst of outcries and protests following the murder of George Floyd. The two are intrinsically linked – both part of a continued reckoning with centuries of racism that is woven into the fabric of our country. Juneteenth is not yet a federal holiday, but all should celebrate this important day.
What is the history of Juneteenth?
While the Emancipation Proclamation became official January 1, 1863, it didn’t free everybody right away. Texas didn’t have significant presence of Union troops to enforce the order, and enslavers there continued to enslave for over two years after the proclamation. June 19, 1865 was the day Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news they were ready to enforce: the war was over and the slaves were free. The day is now a symbolic representation of the
“Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a pride-filled day. It is a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience. … Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. … It is a day where we all take one step closer together – to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.”
How do you celebrate Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a day that can be commemorated at home, at work, and in the community. You can do many things to honor this day. Sign a petition. Support black-owned businesses. Research and educate. Read the Emancipation Proclamation out loud. Read more here about different ideas to celebrate Juneteenth.
Locally, there are several celebrations happening today, both virtually and in-person. Women’s LifeStyle Magazine has a roundup of the events here.
Let’s make Juneteenth a day we celebrate together as a community and as a country.