What Is Juneteenth? Here’s History, Significance and How to Celebrate June 19th

What Is Juneteenth? Here’s History, Significance and How to Celebrate June 19th

Juneteenth has a special significance in the history of the United States, as it commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Although then-President of the United States Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it took until June 19, 1865 for news of the emancipation of slaves in Texas to reach the state. After significant delays in spreading the news of emancipation during the Civil War, Union troops arrived in Galveston to carry out the proclamation.

This delay highlighted the complexity of ending slavery in 19th-century America, where great hurdles had to be overcome. Juneteenth is a day that symbolizes the abolition of slavery, but it is also a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight for equality.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and is celebrated annually on June 19th, becoming a federal holiday in the United States starting in 2021 after US President Joe Biden signed a bill.

When is Juneteenth celebrated?

Juneteenth is a combination of the words “June” and “19th” and is known as Emancipation Day. The day was first established in 1865 after the surrender of the Confederate Army to end the Civil War. It was at that time that a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom under President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

Texas officially declared Juneteenth a national holiday in 1980. Currently, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia legally recognize Juneteenth Day as a national holiday, giving people a paid day off.

The day commemorates those who suffered under slavery for 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the colonies that would become the United States.

What is the significance of Juneteenth this year?

Juneteenth is now a national holiday for the fourth year. All U.S. government employees and private sector participants have the day off.

However, not all state governments recognize the holiday, which means state employees in those states must report to work. Lawmakers would need to pass a bill to make the day a permanent holiday.

In 2023, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada and Tennessee became the first states to declare a permanent holiday, the Pew Research Center reported.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in a decree this year, following repeated attempts by the state legislature to make it a permanent state holiday.

Even four years after George Floyd and other black Americans were killed by police, race is still a contentious topic in the US. Floyd’s death sparked violent protests around the globe, drawing attention to other racial injustices and demands for criminal justice reforms.

How is Juneteenth celebrated?

People prayers and invite people to family gatherings. According to Juneteenth.com, there is also an annual pilgrimage to Galveston by former slaves and their families.

In 1872, a group of African-American clergy and businessmen from Houston purchased 10 acres of land to create Emancipation Park, which hosts the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration.

Celebrations take place among families in backyards, and food is an essential part of the celebration. Some cities, such as Atlanta and Washington, D.C., hold large events, such as parades and festivals featuring residents and local businesses.

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