Juneteenth: what is it?

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Juneteenth is a holiday on June 19th that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It originated in Texas in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived to enforce new freedoms granted to former slaves. The holiday has changed over the years, from having religious overtones to being used as a platform to teach African Americans about their new voting rights. Today, it is a time for reflection and cultural pride, celebrated through various events such as cookouts, festivals, and parades. Juneteenth is recognized as an official holiday in several US states.

Juneteenth, a holiday observed on June 19, is considered by many to be “African-American Emancipation Day.” First observed in 1865, it is the oldest national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. The name Juneteenth comes from the merger of the words June and nineteenth.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce new freedoms granted to former slaves since the signing of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Until then, the Union’s minimal presence in the Texas region meant that the vast majority of African Americans were still living in virtual slavery.

The June celebrations serve an important function as the popular representation of Independence Day completely ignores the issue of slavery and the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. Because of this, many of the larger parties resemble the parties you might expect to see on July XNUMXth.

Juneteenth’s function has changed slightly over the years. Originally, the event had strong religious overtones. Then, after the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave black men the right to vote in 1870, Juneteenth was used as a platform to teach African Americans about the political process of the United States and their new voting rights. After falling out of favor in the time of World War II, Juneteenth has come back again as an occasion to promote cultural pride in the 1970s. Today the celebrations are used as a time to reflect on the African American experience and to encourage respect for other cultures.

The festival can be observed in many different ways, including as part of a larger week-long or month-long celebration of African American culture. In June, libraries and government organizations often create exhibits to honor African-American history. Big companies hold diversity seminars to discuss African-American experiences in business. Churches and civic organizations hold cookouts, blues festivals, baseball games, dances, parades, rodeos, conferences, and other special events to give members of the African American community a chance to come together. Because Juneteenth is meant to be a time for reflection, there’s no “right” way to celebrate the occasion.

Since Juneteenth began in Galveston, Texas, it should come as no surprise that it has been a Texas state holiday since 1980. It is also recognized as an official holiday in states such as New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and Alaska. Several major cities, including Milwaukee and Minneapolis, also host official community-wide celebrations.

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