What is Juneteenth and why it is important

What is Juneteenth and why it is important

What does Juneteenth celebrate?

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, which took place in June 19th, 1865. On this day, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX. He was the first to announce the defeat of the Confederacy and freedom of all slaves. Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, many slave owners in Confederate states fled to Texas with their slaves. More than 150,000 slaves heading west, amounting to 250,000 slaves in Texas by the time of Granger’s announcement. General Order No. 3 came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in the United States.

Why is Juneteenth important?

It’s a celebration of the families that were separated due to slavery could gather again and reunite. Many former slaves’ descendants travel back to Galveston to celebrate the end of slavery. Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and the whole state of Texas are home to the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the United States.

History of the Holiday

Juneteenth faced countless obstacles due to the Jim Crow laws. These laws attempted to glorify the past cruelties and white people forbidding blacks from using public property for Juneteenth celebrations. Black people gathered near rivers and lakes. The group eventually raised $800 to buy 10 acres of land which they called Emancipation Park. Later on, they created the Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia.

After the racial segregation became more prominent with more laws, the Juneteenth celebrations decreased in size and efforts. At that time, there was little to celebrate. But on June 19, 1968, the Poor People’s March for civil rights  started the resurgence of the holiday. In 1979, Texas made Juneteenth an official holiday, the first state to do so.

Juneteenth in Modern Times

Currently, 47 US States and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. The celebrations continue on, showing the true perseverance in the fight for freedom. By choosing to celebrate the very last place in the South that freedom was gained, we remember that initial promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. We can reflect on the battle that we continue fighting to achieve it.

How You Can Celebrate Juneteenth

In the past, the purpose of observing this holiday was to gather lost family. Now, it measures the progression of freedom, and allows for self-reflection and upliftment. The celebrations included readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, religious sermons, and the preservation of slave foods (barbeque and strawberry soda). Nowadays, people incorporate new games and traditions such as rodeos. Participants also dressed in their best clothes, no matter how poor.

In light of the health crisis, we’ve gathered a list of simple activities that you can do at home. You can do your part to spread awareness of the Black Lives Matter Movement and celebrate 155 years of freedom!

  • Prepare a traditional Juneteenth meal such as barbeque with strawberry soda.
  • Use this time to speak with your family and children about the meaning of the holiday and to encourage self-reflection.
  • Hold a reading session with your family and read them the Emancipation Proclamation. Talk about what Juneteenth really means!
  • Take some time to learn more about the holiday. That way you can give yourself more awareness before spreading your knowledge to others.
  • Have your younger kids draw what freedom looks like to them.
  • Have a discussion about freedom with everyone in your home!

However you decide to celebrate this holiday, remember that you are joining millions of Americans in celebrating freedom and equality!

Owner at Language Kids World | + posts

Founder and Director of Education at Language Kids.
M. Ed.

Writer at Language Kids World | + posts

Quick hands and a quicker mind. Always ready to bring energy and knowledge!