June 19th as you already know is Juneteenth, a national holiday in the United States with a history of pain and peace. If you don't know all there is to know about this holiday and why it should matter to you, just sit tight as I give you the full class.
THE HISTORY BEHIND JUNETEENTH
On the eve of January 1st, 1863 enslaved and freed African Americans, gathered together in bated breaths awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. And on January 1st, enslaved people in Confederate states were legally declared free. Many union soldiers took to plantations and cities in the south small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation sharing the news of freedom. However, implementation came late to the people in places still under Confederate control. And after the announcement, many slave owners fled to Texas to continue the practice.
After the civil war ended in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union army on June 19th, 1865 in Galveston Texas announced to the people of Texas that by the Emancipation Proclamation from the President of the United States, all slaves were free. Even at that, enslavers chose to withhold the information until well after the harvest season. That didn't hinder the celebration that broke out for the newly freed Black people and so, Juneteenth was born. In December 1865, following the adoption of the 13th Amendment, slavery in America was abolished for good.
In 1866, the freed in Texas held the first of what would become one of the oldest annual celebrations in history. Although Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, other states soon followed suit, and June 17th, 2021 saw President Joe Biden sign it into law as a national holiday.
THE JUNETEENTH FLAG
Did you know about the Juneteenth flag? It was first created by activist Ben Haith who founded the NJCF in 1997 along with Azim, Elliot Des, and Verlene Hines. It symbolizes freedom and justice for all African Americans and black Americans. Its colors are similar to the united states flag so all Americans can understand and acknowledge the importance it has to African American history. The colors were chosen deliberately to emphasize that African Americans would always be Americans.
WHY IS IT CALLED JUNETEENTH?
The name "Juneteenth" is a fine blend of the words "June" and "19th". It marks the day that Major General Gordon announced in Galveston, Texas all enslaved people of color were legally declared free. It has also been referred to as Juneteenth Independence day as it marks the end of slavery in the United States.
WHY CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH?
Throughout the years, black people have faced all sorts of injustice. With that in mind, we might not feel like celebrating since the reason for the celebration seems futile because of the harsh treatment we still face to this day. Notwithstanding, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate as not celebrating itself can be seen as an act of resignation and defeat.
Juneteenth signifies our beginning as a freed people. It shows the unity in Black communities and should be seen as a time to heal and come together. It tells us that we have a voice that can't be hushed and what's not to celebrate about that?
It's a significant moment in black history as it brings to life black freedom and recognition of the efforts of those who fought for the abolishment of slavery. We celebrate to honor those we've lost and to celebrate the liberation that can not be taken from us.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH
Having established why you should celebrate Juneteenth, you might be at a crossroads as to how to celebrate it. So here's a fun list of all the things that you can and should add to your celebratory itinerary.
· HAVE A COOKOUT:
Who doesn’t love eating good food on a holiday? Want to know what's better than having all that good food alone? It's having it with the people that you care about. Get some chairs and a picnic table, invite your loved ones over, and have a great big cookout in your backyard. It's the best time to catch up on all the family drama as well. A win-win situation if you ask me.
· GO TO A MUSEUM:
Spend the day alone or with someone surrounded by black history and art. One of the best ways to celebrate would be to know more about black history, get to know the people who came before us, and appreciate the moments that led up to our freedom and the effort it took.
· GO TO A PARADE OR A A MUSIC:
Just like in 1865, what says free louder than marching through the streets, dressed beautifully while singing and dancing in unity? Most States host parades, concerts, and festivals for days on end. They mostly offer fun competitions, street vendors, good food, and other eye-catching activities. Going for a parade is also a fun way to meet and mingle with other people in our community and still keep the celebration spirit much alive.
· HAVE A RED DRINK:
Whether you're staying indoors or going out, be sure to add a red drink to your food. It symbolizes the shed blood of the enslaved and is a way of showing respect to them. So make sure you have a strawberry punch or soda or any other red drink at your celebration.
· SHOP AT A BLACK-OWNED BUSINESS:
Shopping local shows you support the growth of black people in the economy. It's encouraging to choose to invest in a black-owned business. It also grows community and unity amongst us blacks.
Other ways to celebrate could be to watch a historical reenactment, donate to a non-profit organization, hold a family reunion, go to prayer meetings, read books written by black authors, listen to black artists and teach the younger generation what Juneteenth means and why it's so important to us. If you happen to be in Texas, you can stop my Galveston and join the flag-raising ceremony.
Now that you know all you should about Juneteenth, ensure you do participate in all the events you can. Remember to show as much love as you can and live as freely as you will. Happy Juneteenth.