A celebration of freedom.
What is Juneteenth? My dad asked this question a few weeks ago and since I didn't really know what is until a few years ago, I thought I'd attempt an answer and give a few suggestions to celebrate #HolyMischief on that day. In a nutshell, it is an annual holiday that celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. It commemorates June 19th, 1865 – the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved people that they were free. Although emancipation had been declared two years earlier, many slaves remained in bondage until this date. Juneteenth is therefore seen as an important milestone in the Black freedom struggle.
Henry Louis Gates, a historian, says that it was not unusual for slaveholders to be unwilling to give up their free labor. They would refuse to release their slaves until they were forced to do so. This could be done either by the slaves themselves or by someone representing the government. Some enslavers wanted to wait until the final harvest was finished, while others simply refused to do so. There were also some other states' enslavers who fled to Texas Territory because they did not want to free their enslaved individuals.
This year, the holiday falls on Sunday, June 19th. Many will celebrate it on Monday. If you're looking for ways to commemorate it, here are some ideas!
1) Learn about the history of Juneteenth and the struggle for African American civil rights. This can be done by reading books, watching documentaries, or visiting museums and historical sites.
2) Attend or participate in a Juneteenth parade or festival. These events are often joyful occasions that bring people of all backgrounds together. Check out your town's website or library for a list of events.
3) Use Juneteenth as an opportunity to have open and honest conversations about race relations in America. These conversations can be difficult, but they are necessary if we want to move forward as a nation.
Juneteenth is a time to reflect on the progress that has been made, while also looking ahead to what still needs to be done. It’s a time for us to come together and celebrate our shared heritage while recommitting ourselves to working towards justice and equality for all people. What will you do this Juneteenth? How will you honor the legacy of those who have fought for freedom before us? Let us know in the comments below.
Amos 5:24 "But let justice roll down like water
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."