Examples of Juneteenth
Examples of Juneteenth
Where does Juneteenth come from?
On June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, Union soldiers were able to proclaim that the war had ended (after General Lee’s surrender) and that anyone enslaved was now emancipated. Unfortunately, this was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered by Lincoln, but still June 19th was historical and has since been celebrated as African American Emancipation Day because it was the day the last of the slaves became aware of their freedom.
Why the two-year delay in giving African Americans their freedom in Texas? Well, a lot of stories have been told to try and explain it (Juneteenth.com gives us a rundown of a few), ranging from a messenger who was delivering the news getting shot, the news being deliberately withheld, waiting on enacting the emancipation to get one more cotton harvest. The more logical story is that there weren’t that many Union troops in Texas to enforce the new proclamation. All of these claims are unsubstantiated … and all are pretty awful, so any way you put it, the two-year delay was outrageous.
So, what did the newly freed African Americans do after June 19th, 1865? A lot of them moved North, because the North represented freedom and because their previous masters weren’t that keen on granting them their freedom immediately. And, they celebrated this date, and their descendants continued to celebrate it, coining it Juneteenth and reveling in the freedom it represented.
Celebrations consisted of praying, gathering, and for some even making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston to see where it all began (or ended). Festivities usually consist of food (strawberry pop being a staple), rodeos (because Texas), barbecuing, and baseball. Guest speakers often speak at bigger events held on the day and they usually focus on education and self-improvement as well as prayer. There’s even a Juneteenth flag.
On January 1st, 1980, Texas declared Juneteenth an official state holiday. It is becoming a much more recognized holiday as more and more states and institutions provide celebrations on the date (the Smithsonian being one now). Juneteenth‘s mission is to now promote knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
Who uses Juneteenth?
More people are becoming aware of Juneteenth and what it represents for both African Americans and the US as a whole. It is a historical day, and people use the term to reflect on the US’s not-so-respectable past while also reveling in the achievements and pride of African American culture in the US now. It’s also a day to think about how far we still have to go in achieving racial equality in the US.
— black-ish (@blackishabc) June 19, 2018
Blackish had an episode entitled “Juneteenth” as their Season 4 premiere in 2017, and that is just the beginning of seeing more of Juneteenth conversation and dialogue in the media. Hopefully soon, with more coverage and recognition, Juneteenth will gain national holiday status.