As one of the only holidays dedicated to commemorating the ending of Black American slavery in the United States, “Juneteenth” continues to grow in recognition by its constituents year after year.
On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger relayed the two-year-old message to slaves in Texas that they were officially free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln in January 1863, the document did not establish instantaneous freedom until the Civil War ended. “Juneteenth”, as it has come to be known today, has been a staple in the black community to where it represents the true meaning of independence and how it relates to the heritage of being Black in America.
Although America (as a whole) tends to aggregate holidays like July 4th as a national holiday fit for all, it is not. In reality, while America was declaring its independence from Britain in 1776, black Americans were still enslaved in bondage for the next 80 years.
Today “Juneteenth” is celebrated nationally by 45 states in the United States and Washington D.C. Festivals, parades, and cookouts occur annually as a modern representation of newfound joy combined with years of resilience.
Black Americans undoubtedly celebrate “Juneteenth” with an emotional connection unlike anything ever attached to July 4th. With “Juneteenth”, Black Americans have an awareness of where they have been in the past, the knowledge of their place in the present, and the understanding of what is needed for the future.