Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrated annually on June 19th in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all enslaved people in the state were free.
Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier, on January 1, 1863, it was not until the end of the Civil War and Granger’s arrival in Texas that the news of freedom reached all enslaved people in the United States.
Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans since its inception, and it has become an increasingly recognized holiday in recent years. In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday, and today, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize it as a holiday or observance.
The celebration of Juneteenth typically includes parades, picnics, barbecues, and other community events. It is a time for African Americans to reflect on their history and heritage and to celebrate their freedom and resilience.
However, the celebration of Juneteenth has taken on added significance in recent years as the country has grappled with issues of racial inequality and police brutality. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 sparked nationwide protests and renewed calls for racial justice and reform.
In response, many companies and organizations have started to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees. In June 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, making it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983.
The recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is an important step towards acknowledging the history of slavery and its ongoing impact on American society. It is also a reminder that the struggle for racial justice and equality is ongoing and requires continued effort and commitment.
As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, let us remember the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before us and recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of creating a more just and equitable society for all.