Happy Juneteenth! – An American Holiday to Celebrate the End of Slavery

by on June 19, 2020 · 2 comments

in Civil Rights

Today June 19 is Juneteenth – so happy Juneteenth – it is an American holiday – or should be.

Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the liberation of African Americans who had been held as slaves in the United States.

Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June in every state, except three (Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota) with varying degrees, however, of recognition. Only Texas, Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania are states that recognize it as an official paid holiday for state employees.

Juneteenth (a combo of the words June and nineteenth) commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all people held as slaves in Texas were free. President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation which had officially outlawed slavery in the south nearly two and a half years earlier, but for whatever reason, slaveowners in Texas had trouble notifying their former slaves they were now free. So, it wasn’t until the Union army arrived did the enactment become known.

Here is a little known fact: Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery – in the south – as slavery was still legal and practiced in Union border states until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished non-penal slavery nationwide.

Activists are campaigning for the United States Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Here’s another lesser-known fact: the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, who escaped from U.S. slavery in 1852 and settled in Coahuila, Mexico, also celebrate Juneteenth.

Yet – whoever celebrates it and for whatever reason – Americans of every hue should embrace it and celebrate it – as we should all celebrate the end of slavery, the worst period in our collective history. And white Americans especially need to celebrate it, because white Americans need to trade white supremacy in for Black equality. And this is another step in that direction.

White Americans need to understand, as Fannie Lou Hamer said, “nobody is free until everybody is free!”

Happy Juneteenth!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman June 19, 2020 at 2:50 pm

What a great piece! Thank you, OB Rag Editor Dude.
I was born and raised in northern Ohio, majored in History in college and had never heard of Juneteenth until 1996 when I went to a community Juneteenth celebration with our distinguished African-American then-Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bertha Pendleton. We are never too old to learn.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie June 19, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Should Juneteenth be an official holiday? Two-thirds of Americans surveyed by Harris Poll think so
USA TODAY https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2020/06/19/juneteenth-official-holiday-americans-harris-poll/3221973001/

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