For the past few days, we’ve come across numerous news concerning ‘Juneteenth’. But what is it all about? Though, it doesn’t necessarily concern our country and continent, it is always nice to be generally cultured. Here is the meaning behind the celebration, it’s importance and how it is celebrated.
Juneteenth is a holiday in the United States of America, it marks the end of slavery after U.S. former President Abraham Lincoln sent a letter to abolish slavery and grant slaves total freedom in 1862 according to the “Emancipation Proclamation (1863)”. Though it was proclaimed earlier, slavery in Texas continued. In the year 1865, the Union General, Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas to communicate the decree and enforce the emancipation of slaves on the lands. From 1865, slavery ended and gave place to the “Jubilee Day” which is now known as “Juneteenth”.
Over the years and early 20th century, the observed celebration started declining due to numerous political and economical factors. According to Gladys L. Knight “upwardly mobile blacks … were ashamed of their slave past and aspired to assimilate into mainstream culture”. Even though it was still observed, acts of barbarism against the black community were still present; contemporary examples are the George Floyd and Bryonna Taylor murders. The importance of the celebration hadn’t been nationally recognized until last Thursday: 17th June 2021, when the US President Joe Biden officially signed into law, bills establishing the day as a federal holiday in U.S. to celebrate Black Independence according to NBC News June 17, 2021.
The celebration ought to remind and educate all African-Americans of the histories behind the freedom that black people have gained today. It is a way to keep history going from generation to generation in order not to lose roots of where Black Americans came from.
Celebrities like Usher awaited the Juneteenth recognition, and after the celebration became official, he captioned “Long overdue, it’s finally official.. #Juneteenth,” on his social media.
Celebrity Tia Mowry the “Sister, sister” star agreed on the importance of teaching her children about history as she said “knowledge is power.” Both herself and her son have experienced racism and she stated “the more I equip him with knowledge … I feel better about him being able to stand up for himself” therefore, Juneteenth stands for accepting and working toward a total freedom/acceptance of the black race as human and people. (USA TODAY)
To celebrate the oldest Black emancipation holiday, the Black community gathered in Texas for religious services, prayers and speeches. They use the celebration to teach and raise awareness concerning Black culture. Gatherings, picnics, festivals and parades with bands playing music and traditional dances jubilating to the words of the late Dr Martin Luther King 1963 “I have a dream”.
It is also celebrated on the U.S. continent as it’s used to recognize the end of slavery as well as to celebrate African American culture and achievements.