Joe Biden announced Friday that “Juneteenth” will be signed into law and reserved as a federal holiday. But what does Juneteenth truly mean? Here are four facts to grasp the meaning of this prominent time in American history for African-Americans.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in 1865 against Black Americans in the United States by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who fought for the Union, and led a force of soldiers to Galveston, Texas. When the civil war was finally over, the Union had won, and enforced the end of slavery for Blacks in the United States.
“All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” President Biden said during the ceremony at the White House on Friday June 18th.
Over 800 U.S. companies across the state allowed employees to have Juneteenth off, unpaid while other companies agreed Juneteenth would take full recognition 2022. Meanwhile, public schools closed down.
Why Did Joe Biden Honor Juneteenth?
Juneteenth has been around since 1865, although for many decades the emancipation of African slaves wasn’t recognized as an official holiday by the government as such days like Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King. However, Joe Biden decided it is time for “Juneteenth” to hold reverence as a significant day in history for African Americans, marking the end of slavery and the beginning of a new era.
In addition, pressure to honor “Juneteenth,” grew during the racial unjust in the aftermath of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man murdered by white police officer Derek Chavin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This event sparked the attention of the nation to honor Black Lives because they do matter. Meanwhile, countless protest formed in response to the senseless murder of George Floyd, captured on camera by a teenager.
Brief Back History
Some white slave owners during this time refused to release their slaves despite the news of Emancipation in 1865. Several daunting reasons associates slave masters with cognitive dissonance, as a response to deny their Black slaves freedom due to business reasons. For instance, Emancipation passed during huge harvesting of goods in the fields. Slaves were also prohibited reading, so many owners didn’t share the news to their slaves. Although, most slaves learned through communion with other slaves and word of mouth around the plantations and so forth.
How African Americans Celebrate Juneteenth?
For decades honoring the celebration June 19 first in Galveston, Texas and slowly spreading across the United States, created joy for African Americans to remember the struggle of their ancestors who paved the way for the change we see today. The community honors Juneteenth in grandiose parades, church services, cookouts, dancing and much more. Social media is a great place to capture some of the traditions in the African American community and diaspora. The struggle of socioeconomic racism continues to thrive across the nation, but African Americans are free to dream and continuous fight for equality for all.