Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19, in recognition of the date in 1865 when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that slaves were free. As Texas was the most remote of the confederate states, and enforcement of the proclamation was slow and inconsistent, June 19 represented the official end of slavery in the U.S. It was almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became effective on Jan. 1, 1863, which ended slavery in America. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.
“Juneteenth is a day of reflection, a day of renewal, a day of celebration. It is a moment to remember the Black experience in America,” said Community Relations Program Specialist and Multicultural Business Resource Group (BRG) lead Monique Screen-Berry. “Join us in celebrating our day of freedom.”
Early Juneteenth celebrations, dating to 1866, often involved church gatherings in Texas, before the holiday expanded throughout much of the south. Celebrations evolved over the years and today Juneteenth is recognized in most major cities in the United States with public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing of traditional songs and food, arts and culture gatherings.
On Jan. 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas, through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth across America and there is an effort to mark the date as a national holiday and day of pride and recognition.
Juneteenth is especially significant this year, as the country continues the fight for equality and justice in the wake of recent events and ongoing protests. Take a moment today to reflect on our nation’s history and the role we can all play in striving for a more equal and just community.
If you’re interested in learning more, there are many resources available online about Juneteenth, including “Freedom Calling: Interactive Tour with Founding Director Lonnie Bunch III” which takes viewers on a virtual tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Additionally, you can learn about seven black LGBTQ leaders in honor of both Juneteenth and Pride Month.
Our thanks to Eversource Energy, from whom we reprinted this wonderfully eloquent and informative post.