As Americans celebrate and advocate for Black lives, the story of Juneteenth has captured national attention, along with many coinciding questions. Why hasn't June 19th been designated a national holiday? Why am I just hearing about this now? Recent protests ignited a dialogue that emphasized ways our country can improve. One obvious step is recognizing the Black experience in American history. On June 19, 1865, union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with revolutionary news: slaves were now free. While the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by Lincoln over 2 years earlier, Texans were resistant to enforcing this federal law. However, with the surrender of confederate General Lee, union armies finally conjured the manpower to impose abolition.
In honor of this astounding feat, newly freed Black people celebrated with rodeos, fishing, sports, and an abundance of food. However, the most vital aspect of Juneteenth is focusing on education and community development. This custom originated on the first Juneteenth, as guest speakers and elders enlightened large crowds with their virtuous stories of strength and survival. Prayer services also commenced, as Black people openly embraced their collective spiritual energy. Black people embraced their new autonomy as they embarked upon an uncertain world.
Unfortunately, the celebration of Juneteenth has been largely ignored by non-Black people. Awareness steadily declined until the Civil Rights Movement. Since then, the number of cities and states assembling Juneteenth committees rapidly accelerated. With recent racial divisions, calls to celebrate Juneteenth have echoed across the nation. The Black experience of American history has been hidden for far too long. Today is a day for celebration; to recognize African American liberation, and express appreciation for their culture and pride. People of every race are encouraged to get involved in Juneteenth, to promote unity and awareness. The spirit of Juneteenth entails collaboration, open dialogue, and recognition. As our world continues to progress, it is important to understand our turbulent history, lest we not repeat it. This Juneteenth, we should honor and elevate the Black experience in any way possible: listen to a podcast, watch an informative movie, or read a book!
Or, you can start here, and sign the petition to make Juneteenth a National Holiday!
Let’s celebrate abolition together, and move forward into untold tomorrows with open minds and linked arms.