Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, technically freeing enslaved people in the Confederate states, but enslaved people in Texas weren’t aware of their freedom until the official announcement arrived in Galveston, TX. This is why Juneteenth is so significant. Civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer once noted that “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” There were still enslaved people who had not yet received this news of freedom - which means that slavery was not over.
Though it has still to be designated a national holiday, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance by most US states. The end of slavery is cause for national celebration, but the US has yet to designate a day to commemorate the legal freeing of 4 million enslaved people over 150 years ago. We have to reckon with our history and create dialogue around it - and question who dictates what makes history. Juneteenth needs to be a household word in all of our homes, not just a side note.
Take action today to learn about, show support for, and take part in Juneteenth.
If you’re in the US, contact your representative and tell them to support legislation to make Juneteenth a national day of observance.
Read more on the history and share your knowledge with others!
This post was written by leadership member Charise Johnson.