When is Juneteenth celebrated? June is all about promoting equality and embracing people of different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, and that includes Juneteenth, a significant day for the Black-American community and for our country at large.
It's so significant a date, in fact, that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have declared the day a U.S. holiday. Here are all the key points you need to know about our nation's newest federal holiday.
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When is Juneteenth celebrated?
Juneteenth will be celebrated this year on Saturday, June 19th.
What does Juneteenth celebrate?
Juneteenth—also referred to as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Juneteenth Independence Day—marks the end of slavery in the United States.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, two years into the Civil War, and it declared that all of the slaves living in Confederate states would be free.
Unfortunately, Texas did not adhere to the president's rules. Two years later, Union soldiers arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, to make the announcement that all slaves were free. Since then, people have marked the pivotal moment in American history on June 19.
The country saw a resurgence of Juneteenth observance during the Civil Rights movement. Additionally, after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, our country began to take deeper note of Juneteenth's importance.
Why is it called Juneteenth?
A combination of the words "June" and "nineteenth," Juneteenth recognizes the day that Major General Gordon Granger led Union troops into Texas to announce that slavery had been abolished.
According to the United States Department of Justice, the proclamation read: "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
Is Juneteenth a federal holiday?
It is now! Juneteenth was once recognized by 48 states and the District of Columbia as a state holiday, though it was not considered a federal holiday in the U.S. A bill was introduced in 2020 to change that.
"Our nation still has a long way to go to reckon with and overcome the dark legacy of slavery and the violence and injustice that has persisted after its end,” Senator Cory Booker, one of the officials who proposed the bill, stated in a press release.
And in 2021, it did change. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on June 17, 2021, stating that Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, calling it "one of the greatest honors" he will have as president.
"By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we've come (and) the distance we have to travel," he said during a White House press briefing, according to CNN.
What is being done to promote equality?
In addition to calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act, President Joe Biden began the month with a call to end the racial wealth gap through new actions.
"We can’t build back better without tackling the systemic racism and disparities that have plagued our nation for far too long," he said in a tweet. "That’s why today, we’re taking additional steps to advance racial equity, narrow the racial wealth gap, and build Black wealth."
We can’t build back better without tackling the systemic racism and disparities that have plagued our nation for far too long. That’s why today, we’re taking additional steps to advance racial equity, narrow the racial wealth gap, and build Black wealth. https://t.co/7mP3mvhSgcJune 1, 2021
In an effort to combat racism, the president also visited Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 1 to mark the 100th anniversary of the horrific massacre that claimed 300 African American lives in 1921. He's the first sitting president to acknowledge this violent act and issue a proclamation for a day of remembrance.
We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know — and not what we should know.We memorialize what happened in Tulsa 100 years ago so it can’t be erased.June 1, 2021
How can I support Juneteenth?
Events such as talks, workshops, and festivals are taking place throughout a variety of communities. You can also explore ways to give back to organizations that do work in Black-American communities.
Danielle is a writer for My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.
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