Juneteenth and how it started

Juneteenth and how it started

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Emancipation Day, or Freedom Day, is a significant holiday in the United States that commemorates the end of slavery. Celebrated annually on June 19, it marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved African Americans were now free. This event took place over two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had officially outlawed slavery in the Confederate states on January 1, 1863.

Historical Context

The delay in the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas and other remote areas of the Confederacy was largely due to the minimal presence of Union troops, making enforcement of the order slow and inconsistent. The arrival of General Granger and his troops was pivotal in ensuring that the proclamation was finally enforced in Texas, the most distant of the slave states.

Celebrations and Significance

Juneteenth began as a Texas state holiday but has since gained broader recognition across the United States. It is a day of reflection, celebration, and education, and it is often observed with community gatherings, cultural festivities, parades, barbecues, and educational events. Juneteenth is a time to celebrate African American freedom and achievements, while also encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

The holiday serves as a historical milestone that reminds Americans of the nation’s turbulent past regarding slavery and racial oppression. It is a symbol of the ongoing struggle for equality and a reminder of the need for continued efforts to address racial injustices.

Recognition and Federal Holiday

For many years, Juneteenth was celebrated predominantly in African American communities. However, the holiday has gained more widespread recognition over the years, especially amidst the growing awareness of racial injustice and inequality in the United States. In June 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday, a significant step in acknowledging the historical significance of emancipation and the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States.

Why is Juneteenth called Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” is named after the date on which it is celebrated, June 19th. The name specifically commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the state. This was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which had declared all slaves in Confederate-held territory to be free.

The term “Juneteenth” reflects not only the date of this historic event but also the joy and celebration associated with the end of the brutal institution of slavery in the United States. The name has become a symbol of freedom and a reminder of the struggle for civil rights and equality that continues to this day.

Who made Juneteenth a holiday?

Juneteenth became a federal holiday largely through the efforts of activists, historians, and lawmakers who worked to formally recognize the significance of the day. For many years, Juneteenth was celebrated in various communities across the United States, particularly in Texas and other Southern states, but it was not a national holiday.

The push to make Juneteenth a national holiday gained significant momentum in 2020 following widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. These events brought renewed attention to the significance of Juneteenth as a symbol of emancipation and the ongoing struggle for racial equality.

In Congress, the effort to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday was led by several lawmakers. The bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, titled the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act,” was sponsored by Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts in the Senate and by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and others in the House of Representatives.

On June 17, 2021, the bill was passed by Congress, with the Senate unanimously passing the resolution and the House passing it with a significant majority. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 18, 2021, officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday. This act was a historic moment in recognizing the importance of Juneteenth in American history and the ongoing efforts to address racial inequality in the United States.

Is Juneteenth a Holiday?

Juneteenth is now an official holiday in the United States. This means that it’s a special day that everyone in the country celebrates. It became a holiday when President Joe Biden signed a law saying that June 19th is a day to remember when slavery ended in America. This happened a long time ago, on June 19, 1865, when soldiers came to a place called Galveston in Texas and told people that they were free from being slaves. Juneteenth is an important day because it represents freedom and the fight for fairness and equality.

Can I Say Happy Juneteenth?

You can say “Happy Juneteenth” because it’s a special day to remember and learn about an important time in America’s past. It’s a mix of being sad about what happened and being happy about freedom and African American culture. When we celebrate Juneteenth, we should be respectful and think about its history. People often get together, do fun things, and learn about why Juneteenth is important.

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