Juneteenth is an annual holiday that commemorates and holds observance as the official day of the emancipation of all enslaved black people. Although we are often taught and reference the end Civil War as the official freeing of all enslaved black people, that simply isn’t true.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that the previously enslaved people were now free. This comes nearly 2 and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was officially enacted on January 1st, 1863. On this day those who were still enslaved received official notice of being free and thus Master and then Slave were presumed to be on equal footing with equal rights.
A year to the day Texans began celebrating Juneteenth to commemorate their freedom. They held parades, cookouts, historical and cultural readings as well as musical performances to celebrate the occasion. Overtime different communities began to create their own traditions. Such traditions began to grow and spread as many migrated to different states, taking with them a remembrance of Juneteenth, and its importance.
Today Juneteenth is officially observed in 47 states and the District of Columbia. As we celebrate we must share the memory of Juneteenth’s importance and celebrate new beginnings within the black community. Juneteenth is a representation of the delayed freedom for black people due to systemic and institutional oppression. This year we celebrate in honor of the black lives that have been lost and for those that we still hold near and dear. We choose to celebrate our blackness simply because it deserves to exist and will continue to take up space within the land we currently call home. Whether by playing spades, going to a cookout, or sharing old family stories, we choose to embrace each other for all that we are. Today we extend our love for one another and will continue to do so every year moving forward.
Cheers to 155 years in celebration of Juneteenth!
“Nobody's free until everybody's free.“ | Fannie Lou Hamer American Political lead |