What is the Significance of Juneteenth?

Quck answer

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all slaves were free. This event marked the end of slavery in the Confederate states, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Juneteenth is a day of remembrance and reflection, honoring the resilience and triumphs of African Americans. It is celebrated with parades, festivals, and community gatherings, highlighting African American culture and achievements. Juneteenth also serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight for freedom, equality, and justice for all.

How do you acknowledge independence? Do you light fireworks in the United States on July 4? If you reside in Myanmar, you might host a celebration on January 4. Perhaps you read the Grito de Dolores on September 16. People observe freedom in various ways!

Are you a resident of a country that upholds freedom of speech, press, and religion? If so, you are fortunate. Many individuals do not possess those rights. Even within nations, there may be disparities in liberty among different groups of people.

For instance, Black individuals in America were deprived of freedom for approximately 300 years. Instead of being free, they were enslaved. Slavery devastated countless lives and continues to have far-reaching consequences in contemporary society.

Today, numerous Americans commemorate the abolition of slavery. Are you curious about the specific date on which they do so? It is not January 1, the day when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It is also not April 9, the day when the Civil War concluded. You might assume it is December 6, the day when slavery was rendered illegal by the 13th Amendment. However, that is not the case! People celebrate the end of slavery on June 19.

This holiday is known as “Juneteenth.” It marks the day when slavery came to an end in Texas, which was the westernmost state in the Confederacy. During the Civil War, many slaveholders relocated to Texas as the Union Army advanced through the South. They did so in order to maintain control over the enslaved individuals for a longer period of time.

Communication was slow during that time. There were no telephones, and certainly no email. It took a considerable amount of time for news of the abolition of slavery to reach Texas. Months after the Civil War had ended, many Black individuals in Texas were still enslaved.

On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. It was there that he announced the end of slavery. The 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were finally free. This occurred two months after the Civil War had ended and two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. However, slaveholders were resistant to accept this news, and it took some time before people truly felt free.

The first Juneteenth celebration took place in 1866. During the event, Black Americans read the Emancipation Proclamation and prayed together. They spent time with their loved ones and sang hymns. Black Americans in Texas continued to celebrate Juneteenth each year. As they relocated to other parts of the country, the holiday began to spread.

Although slavery was abolished, a long battle still lay ahead. It would be several more years before Black individuals gained citizenship and the right to vote. For decades, they endured segregation and faced brutal treatment from White individuals who did not view them as equals. Today, Black Americans and their allies continue to strive for racial equity.

Juneteenth celebrations diminished in the early 1900s. However, they were revitalized in 1968. Reverend Ralph Abernathy’s Poor People’s March in Washington, D.C. played a role in bringing the holiday back. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas. In 2021, President Joe Biden declared it an official national holiday.

Do you celebrate Juneteenth? If so, you understand the significance of this holiday. Some families have cookouts, while others perform skits or share family stories. Many communities organize parades. It is often a time for community elders to pass down wisdom and for individuals to honor their shared history. How do you commemorate special occasions with your family and friends?

Give It a Try

Are you prepared to commemorate Juneteenth? Enlist the help of a few friends or family members to explore the following activities:

  • In the early days of Juneteenth celebrations, it was often challenging to find a suitable location for a large gathering. Some towns and cities even prohibited public Juneteenth celebrations. However, these obstacles did not deter groups of Black Americans from pooling their resources to purchase property for Juneteenth festivities. Emancipation Park in Houston serves as a prime example of such efforts. Click on the link to delve into the history of this magnificent park!
  • Discover The Emancipation Proclamation online exhibit on the National Archives website. Gain insights into the history of Lincoln’s proclamation and view photographs of the original document. What impact did this proclamation have? Why was it significant? Discuss these questions with a friend or family member.
  • Since 2021, Juneteenth has become a national holiday. How can you and your family make the most of this day? Engage in a conversation with your family and compile a list of ways to learn about the history of Juneteenth and support your community on this holiday. You could even plan a celebration or find a local Juneteenth party to attend! Enjoy brainstorming ideas on how to observe this holiday with your family.

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/juneteenth-celebration-police-brutality-justice/530898/ (accessed 14 Jan. 2019)
  • http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm (accessed 14 Jan. 2019)
  • http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/. (accessed 14 Jan. 2019)
  • https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2015/06/juneteenth-the-black-american-holiday-everyone-should-celebrate-but-doesnt.html (accessed 14 Jan. 2019)
  • https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/06/18/a-proclamation-on-juneteenth-day-of-observance-2021/ (accessed 03 Feb. 2022)

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