The celebration of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States of America.
What is Juneteenth?
WHY IS JUNETEENTH IMPORTANT?
Juneteenth is considered our country’s second independence day. It has been celebrated in the African American community since the 1860's, beginning in Texas and spreading throughout the United States, each group adapting the celebration and how they chose to do it.
Somehow this extremely important event in our history was not commonly celebrated or known by people in other communities within the country until very recently. Even if they've heard about it or knew what it represents, they didn’t celebrate it and tended to think of it as just a part of history. F most of the time it has been celebrated, other people didn't usually join the Black community in their activities.
We believe that knowing our history helps us move forward, and learning about such a dark period in our country makes sure we don't repeat the same mistakes. The enslavement of our brothers and sisters' ancestors not only affected them- It affected the country as a whole, and we are still feeling the consequences of it. It is important to educate ourselves, and the new generations, on the stories of hope and resilience of these enslaved individuals, and the hardship they overcame- and celebrate with our brothers and sisters in their memory.
HISTORY OF THIS CELEBRATION-
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and declared that more than three million people be set free, including the ones enslaved in the Confederate states. More than two years passed before the news reached the people living in bondage in Texas. Their enslavers kept this information from them, for obvious reasons.
To make sure that this proclamation got to the ears of those most affected by this inhumane economic system, a contingent of Union soldiers was dispatched- and about 2,000 of them arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. These soldiers arrived on June 19th, 1865.
It was finally then that the state’s enslaved residents learned that slavery had been abolished and that they were free. The former enslaved immediately began to celebrate the way they knew best: with prayers, feasting, songs, and dancing.
The following year, on June 19th, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas. The original celebration included prayer meetings, the singing of spirituals, and people wore new clothes to represent their new freedom. Within a few years, other African American communities in other states were celebrating the day, making it an annual tradition. Celebrations have continued into the 21st century and typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with music, food, and dancing. It was given federal status by President Biden in 2021.
The holiday's name is a combination of the words June and nineteenth. The color red is used to symbolize the blood of the generations of enslaved people who were tortured and killed.