Juneteenth: Celebrating Black Culture

by Miranda Brooks 19. June 2021 10:07

What is Juneteenth? How did it come to be? Why do we celebrate? Not everyone’s familiar with the occasion, so we put together the basics in this quick video. https://vimeo.com/561791563

If you want to learn more, we have you covered with the full history of the commemorative holiday:

On July 4th, 1776, American colonists celebrated their newfound freedom from English rule with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But while some were dancing in the fireworks, about 37,000 Black men, women, and children in the country were enslaved. Over the next 84 years, that number increased to 4 million across 15 states, all watching those “Independence Day” fireworks from plantation fields, hoping to one day spark their own.

Fast forward 85 years to April 12th, 1861. The Civil War breaks out after seven states leave the union to form the Confederate States of America. Eventually, four more states join them, all to maintain their lifestyle centered around slavery.

Two years later, on January 1st, 1863, President Lincoln signed one of the most controversial documents in U.S. History – The Emancipation Proclamation – declaring, “All persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free.” But at the time, there were only about 2,000 Union soldiers to enforce it.

Now, fast forward one last time, to June 19th, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. In Galveston, TX, Major General Gordon Granger publicly read General Order No. 3, stating, "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." Slaves in Texas and throughout the entire confederate south were finally free.

That brings us to today, when we commemorate the events of June 19th, now referred to as Juneteenth. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States – a day for Black Americans to honor their history and celebrate today’s Black culture.

To celebrate, try eating at Black-owned restaurants in your community, reading books by Black authors, or simply educating yourself on the history of African Americans and what it means for the Black community today.

 

 

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