IT’S JUBILEE DAY! HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JUNETEENTH & HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE
Friday, Jun 19, 2020
As today is Juneteenth, a national celebration to commemorate the end of slavery, many will be honoring this Freedom Day as racial tensions continue to rise across the country. Sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd and countless others at the hands of police, people across the globe are protesting for racial equality, justice, and police reform—a taunting reminder of how far we have to go despite being “freed” on June 19, 1865.
Nonetheless, Juneteenth is a time for celebration, and below is everything you need to know should you want to participate, petition to make it a federal holiday, or simply spread awareness.
HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’sEmancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863, the Major General Gordon Granger-led Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, TX, with news “that all persons held as slaves” were free; officially birthing the holiday Juneteenth—a mashup of June and Nineteenth.
“I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons,” read the Emancipation Proclamation.
Despite Lincoln’s executive order, there’s speculation surrounding the delay in freedom for all slaves, specifically those in Texas. Many attribute this delay to the lack of Union troops in the south, and subsequently their inability to enforce Abraham Lincoln’s order. Additionally, since the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states that seceded from the Union, all slaves couldn’t be freed until the Civil War ended. It wasn’t until Confederate Commander General Robert E. Lee surrendered to President Ulysses S Grant on April 9, 1865, and Granger rolled up with his regiment that slave owners complied. Although all slaves were officially and technically free, slavery wasn’t abolished until the controversial 13th amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.
HOW TO CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH
Mostly commemorated by a soiree of soul food staples, festivals, parades, historical programs, church services, and a host of other events, Juneteenth has been jumpin’ in the black community since it’s very inception. However, this year might be the most celebrated yet, not to mention the most diverse, as major corporations such as Nike, NFL, Target, Uber,Twitter, Amazon are publically recognizing Juneteenth as a paid company holiday following protests and calls for equality.
In email to Amazon employees a short time ago, @JeffBezos stops short of making Juneteenth a company holiday but encourages employees to cancel meetings and take advantage of “online learning opportunities” that Amazon will provide. pic.twitter.com/BIGRqv8Wor
Texas is the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday with Virginia and New York following suit. And while it’s at least a day of observance for most states, with the exception of Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, it’s still not a federal holiday. A resolution was passed by the U.S. Senate to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday but was not approved by the House. Opal Lee, 93, started a petition on Change.org to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and has accrued over 313,000 signatures with a goal of 500k.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUNETEENTH & INDEPENDENCE DAY?
Since slavery was legal when the Constitution was signed on July 4, 1776, and wasn’t officially abolished until the 13th amendment was ratified in December 1865, almost 90 years later, Juneteenth is considered the official Independence Day of the black community.
We hope this helps get you started on your journey to Juneteenth!