What is Juneteenth?

Updated from the original post on June 17, 2020

We originally posted this content in 2020 in the midst of the racial uprisings, and our social media audience grew by the thousands over night. Now, three years later, Juneteenth is a National Holiday, but the public outcry for justice and reparations has grown much quieter. Attention has been turned away, and the recognition of this holiday feels more and more performative.

Let us not forget what we were so passionate about three years ago. The demand for change is still just as alive. We cannot sit back while Critical Race Theory is being taken away from public schools, books are being banned, and violence against Black bodies continues. Don’t give up this fight. Turn your resources back to the Black community and demand more than just recognition.

What is Juneteenth?

History of Juneteenth

On June 19th, 1865, news arrived in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free.

This news came a full two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Empancipation Proclamation. This long delay remains unexplained, but many speculate that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain their labor force.

Although many Americans consider July 4th, 1776 to be “Independence Day,” independence did not come for Black Americans until almost a century later. This is why June 19th, 1865, or “Juneteenth,” is often referred to as “Black Independence Day.”

How is Juneteenth Celebrated?

The celebration of Freedom Day became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with new generations. The day was celebrated by bringing families back together for prayer and reflection. Many families even made a pilgrimage back to Galveston.

Today, many Black American families celebrate by coming together and sharing meals. In some cities, mostly in the South, there are larger events like parades, festivals, and potlucks.

Juneteenth became a National Holiday in 2021,and some companies and school districts now honor it with a day off. However, many large corporations are still not providing a paid holiday or any reparations for their Black employees.

How Can We Celebrate Juneteenth as Non-Black Americans?

  • Share your financial resources with Black folks in your community.
  • If you have the privilege of a day off, do not take it lightly. This day is not for you. What are you doing with this spare time?
  • Within your workplace, advocate for PTO for Black employees.
  • Spread awareness of Juneteenth and it’s true history. Slavery was abolished because Black folks fought for it, and we now celebrate this holiday because Black folks fought for that, too.

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