top of page

Juneteenth - Recognizing Black Excellence & Commemorating Emancipation

History of Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, received the news of their emancipation, as Union General Gordon Granger announced that they’d been freed from slavery. This moment, though momentous, was long overdue, coming 2½ years after the issuance of the emancipation proclamation—the general order which abolished slavery throughout the United States. In the span of those 2½ years, enslavers across the South intentionally withheld the news of emancipation from enslaved individuals, prolonging their enslavement for an additional harvest season. It wasn’t until this date, June 19th, 1865, that America had officially rid itself of its most diabolical, shameful institution: slavery.

Today, one hundred and fifty-eight years later, Americans of all races gather to collectively commemorate the historic date, honoring the resilience, strength, and contributions of African Americans throughout history. This year’s June 19th celebration (or, “Juneteenth” as it has come to be called) will mark the holiday’s third year as an official federal holiday, signed into legislation in 2021 by President Joe Biden. Though the holiday has only recently been recognized by the government, citizens around the nation have been celebrating Juneteenth since the historic events of the date took place.

Earliest Celebrations

In 1866, just one year after General Granger’s announcement, African Americans throughout Texas celebrated their emancipation with vibrant community-centered festivities, including parades, cookouts, prayer assemblies, historical and cultural readings, and musical showcases. With each passing year, the festivities grew in scale, encompassing greater spaces and extending to more Texan communities.

By the late 1900’s, Juneteenth was not only being celebrated by African Americans in Texas, but by a wide range of Texans hailing from an amalgam of races and backgrounds. The mass acculturation of the annual celebration led the state of Texas to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday on January 1st, 1980.

Following Texas's lead, the federal government, along with all 50 states and the District of Columbia, have since acknowledged and began commemorating Juneteenth. This widespread recognition underscores the importance of honoring the end of slavery and emphasizes the shared commitment to promoting equality and justice throughout the United States.

Celebrating Today

Juneteenth’s ascension to federal recognition has been met with country wide acceptance. Now, teachers incorporate the history of the holiday into their curriculum; parents teach their children of the date’s significance; communities of all sorts honor African American emancipation. The date has become forever intertwined in American culture.

You can honor the occasion by educating yourself about the significance and historical context of Juneteenth, achieved through reading books, watching documentaries, or attending local events that highlight the struggles and triumphs of African Americans. You can also participate in community celebrations and parades to foster a sense of unity and support. Supporting black-owned businesses, engaging in conversations about racial equality, and advocating for social justice are also meaningful actions that can be taken.

When we take time to reflect on both the progress made and the work that still needs to be done in the pursuit of equality, we become closer to realizing such equality. By celebrating Juneteenth and promoting awareness, we honor the past and continue the ongoing fight against racial injustice.

Ezrach celebrates with our brothers and sisters on this day. Together, we will continue to rise, thrive, and lift up our communities.

40 views0 comments


bottom of page