On January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation - which declared "that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free" - BECAME OFFICIAL. However, it wasn't until almost 2 and a half years later on June 19th, 1865 when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and
all the slaves were free. The Emancipation Proclamation, which should have set them free, wasn't enforced on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to back the Executive Order up. But with the surrender of General Lee in April 1865 and General Granger's regiment's arrival, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. [https://www.juneteenth.com/]
Juneteenth is the oldest celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, but unfortunately, it is still NOT recognized as a national holiday. It's pretty much just looked at as a black folks holiday and not a holiday that's representative of the American culture. There are activists pushing Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, but as of now it is only recognized as a special day of observance in 46 of the 50 United States. And the observances are primarily in local celebrations. So pretty much just the black neighborhoods..... Y'all, it's 2020 and there are STILL 4 whole entire states that just don't give a damn about Juneteeth. (-_-) Like, c'mon man! We can't even get a special mention!? Fix it, Jesus!!
I'm not shocked by this, though. I mean, who would be? Especially in today's social climate with the mass incarcerations of black people, as well as the continued acts of police violence and racial profiling we face everyday from our white neighbors.... simply for living our lives. No, we're not in shackles and chains anymore, but there are still plenty of barriers that continue to impede our progress in the black community. Until we can come together as a country and deal with the elephant in the room - slavery - and how it generated massive amounts of wealth for white Americans on the backs of Black people, and how the narratives used back then to justify slavery are STILL connected with the narratives that are used to oppress African Americans today, we'll never be able to peacefully move forward.... together.
Juneteenth ain't "just a black holiday", it's national holiday that's failing to get the recognition it deserves. So let's celebrate out loud!! Have your cookouts, throw your parades, shoot off the fireworks!! (While maintaining your social distance, of course.) And if nothing else, have the conversation with someone who looks different from you about WHY Juneteenth is so important, not just to the black community but to EVERYONE. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, "Nobody's free until everybody's free." So America wasn't free until JUNETEENTH!!! #Periodt.
So.... how are you celebrating Juneteenth?
As for me and mines.... Oh, we turning up!!