…the 19th of June wasn’t the exact day the Negro was freed. But that’s the day they told them that they was free… And my daddy told me that they whooped and hollered and bored holes in trees with augers and stopped it up with [gun] powder and light and that would be their blast for the celebration.” – Haye Turner, former slave.
June 19 is a day that many people, including myself never heard of until I was an adult. This is an important day in history that goes unnoticed by many.
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH
June 19 is a day of FREEDOM. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, in January 1863 freeing slaves in the confederate states. However, the last remaining enslaved African Americans, were not told of their freedom until June 19, 1865. The Union General, Major Gordon Granger and Union troops reached Galveston, Texas and read the slaves the proclamation. Taking place 2 ½ years after the proclamation was originally issued. It represented the end of slavery in the United States. Which means that all African Americans were free.
June 19 is Independence Day for African Americans.
All through school and even college, I was never taught about a day that would change the lives of all the brown and black people in the United States. In school, the only day of independence I learned about and celebrated was July 4th, Independence Day. However, while America was free, as an African American, you were free but segregated and still had to endure discrimination.
Even in 2020 as a black person, sometimes you think you are not free.
In school, I remember learning and celebrating black history month as a part of my history teacher’s curriculum, sometimes, I think my teachers wasn’t even aware of the day and its significance. Even in a predominately black neighborhood, I was never taught about a day that represented my freedom as an African American and how I became free.
Due to the current climate of race relations in America, Juneteenth is becoming more popular. It is like we are living in a modern-day civil rights movement again. With the killing of George Floyd, in his daughters’ word, “he has changed the world.” America is changing for the better, recognizing difficult challenges many African Americans face such as police brutality, discrimination, and unfair treatment often in healthcare and pay disparities.
While, Juneteenth is not a federal holiday, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognizes it as a sate holiday. Texas was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1980, however Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota still don’t recognize the day. With the current state of race relations in the country, the request for June 19 to be a federal holiday, has been growing in popularity since protest against racial injustices started last month.
Due to Covid-19 and social distance requirements in many states, there will not be group celebrations like previous years. There will be virtual celebrations. To celebrate this day, I highly suggest taking the time to educate and learn more of about Juneteenth and its importance. Have a conversation with someone of another race, so that race relations will become better.
Most importantly remember George Floyd is the reason that we are having this conversation. His death should not be in vain.
#Black Lives Matter #HappyJuneteenth