A Celebration of Juneteenth

Historically, Juneteenth has been a significant and long-celebrated holiday in the African-American community. However, only recently has it come into the wider consciousness, awareness bolstered by President Joe Biden signing a bill in 2021 officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

And, while more people are now aware of Juneteenth as a term or holiday, many still do not know the history or significance behind what has also commonly been called “America’s Second Independence Day” “Emancipation Day” “Jubilee Day” and “Freedom Day.”

Long, Winding Steps to Juneteenth

The journey to Juneteenth was a difficult one, taking over two years from the Emancipation Proclamation to become law and then making its way messenger by messenger, church by church, soldier by soldier to finally reach the last holdout of the Confederacy in June of 1865.

  1. Independence Day in the United States is celebrated on July 4, 1776, to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  2. However, freedom was not declared for all Americans until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
  3. Yet, even with this declaration by President Abraham Lincoln, the official legal process of the 13th Amendment was not complete until the early months of 1865.
  4. While it seemed that law would be the start of freedom, the country was still engaged in the Civil War. This meant the 13th Amendment could not be implemented in the Confederate States.
  5. Months later, when the Civil War officially ended in April of 1865, it took time for all of the Confederate troops to officially surrender, the last being in eastern Texas.
  6. Finally, on June 19, 1865, approximately 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and related the message that all enslaved Black people were free.
  7. The following year, particularly by Black Texans, Juneteenth began as a day of commemorative celebration.

Of course, we know that the journey for people of a minority in the United States was far from over then and remains far from over now. Juneteenth was only one of the many steps toward freedom and equality that now includes the Civil Rights Era and ongoing progress toward antiracism. For more detailed information about Juneteenth, check out the resources below!

Published June 16, 2024. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo 

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