Following the rise of activism during the summer of 2020, it’s become clear that there are missing pieces in our history books. This is why we are shining light on this upcoming Saturday, Juneteenth, a holiday that has been overlooked for the past couple hundred years.
You probably learned in history class that the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect January, 1, 1863, and with it came the end of slavery in the United States. However, the official end of slavery didn’t come until June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers entered Galveston, Texas to ensure all slaves had been freed. This arrival of troops came around two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect and brought freedom to nearly 250,000 Texan slaves. The following year, Texas declared a day of celebration on June 19th, and the longest running African American holiday was born.
Since then, the holiday has continued to gain more attention during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and again in the 1970s when Texas officially established June 19th as a holiday. In 2021, President Biden signed into law a bill creating a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth. Because the day falls on a Saturday this year, most federal employees will get Friday, June 18 off.
Juneteenth continues to grow in popularity as more cities and states take action to recognize and celebrate the day. It’s important to shed light on Juneteenth while acknowledging the present day recognition is long overdue. Juneteenth only recently became a topic of discussion in the media, and in order for it to continue to grow, it’s up to everyone to learn more.
Juneteenth.com provides a wonderful history of the holiday and up-to-date links to celebrations and events near you. Alongside education, donating to charities such as ACLU and the NAACP, can make a big difference. Here’s where you can find more information on how to contribute.