What is Juneteenth?

Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)
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What is Juneteenth?

Many across the United States of America know July 4th to be independence day. It is celebrated as a day where this nascent country made the decision to be free to march on their own path to independence.

This privilege was not afforded to all members of this newly forming nation. Slavery was still a stain on this country. It wasn’t until almost a century later (January 2, 1863) that the emancipation proclamation took effect and slaves in the confederate states were technically free. Even after it took effect, there was not much power in this proclamation. It wasn’t until the ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6, 1865) that the US had the legal backing to end slavery for good.

Union troops would then march across the south to read the emancipation proclamation to plantation owners declaring freedom for their enslaved people. It wasn’t until June 19th (June-Teenth) 1865 in Texas that the last slaves on the last plantation were notified of their freedom. Since then this has been celebrated in the African-American community as freedom day. We remember this day and hold it very dear.

The knowledge of this day has not been as widely taught or celebrated as the 4th of July In America. Shouldn’t June 19th get the same degree of reverence? This is not just Black history, it is American history.

On June 16th, 2021, Congress approved a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Some resources for learning about Juneteenth:

Click here to read Milton’s Diversity, Equity, and inclusion Director’s Juneteenth information.

Contributed by Scott Matthews.

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