As politicians and companies across the U.S. announced plans to help Black people and culture in a time of ongoing demonstrations against racial injustice and police violence, Juneteenth, a 155-year-old holiday honouring African-Americans’ freedom from U.S. slavery, has been in the news. Businesses like Twitter and Square, Nike, the National Football League, Vox Media and The 19th have announced they would accept Juneteenth as a paid company holiday, celebrated on June 19.
And on Friday President Donald Trump tweeted that he will no longer restart his reelection campaign in 2020 with a June 19 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma “out of consideration” for the June 10th holiday. On Saturday, June 20, after Trump faced some criticism for holding the rally in Tulsa on June 10 (the site of a historic African-American genocide nearly 100 years ago), it will take place instead.
Apart from that, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order recognizing Juneteenth a day celebrating the end of slavery in America as a holiday for state employees. Each year the holiday is celebrated on 19 June. So what is Juneteenth and why does it matter? Here ‘s exactly Why Americans Want Juneteenth as National Holiday?
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a 155-year-old holiday marking the African-Americans’ liberation from US slavery. It is celebrated on June 19 (the name is a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth”) because on that day, in 1865, the Union Army’s Major General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, and told the slaves that the Civil War had ended and slavery abolished.
On 1 January 1863, Granger and about 2,000 Union soldiers were there to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, which had actually come into effect more than two years earlier. (In fact, Lincoln himself was assassinated a few months earlier, in April 1865.) But, according to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the more than 250,000 slaves in Texas were still shocked to hear the news that they were free back then.
Today, there is still conflicting accounts of why it is so long for the news of the abolition of slavery to reach Texas, with one story saying a courier bringing the news assassinating on his way there. Many historians, however, note that Texas remained a Confederate State until 1865 when Robert E. Lee eventually surrendered to the Union Army, and thus the State would not have enforced the proclamation of Lincoln until the Union took control.
Historians also say that many Texas slave owners actively withheld knowledge from slaves about the Emancipation Proclamation prior to 1865 in order to keep their labour force intact. Regardless, Granger’s arrival and the announcement that the federal government had abolished slavery set off massive state-wide celebrations.
Why Americans Want Juneteenth as National Holiday?
Besides marking a date of great significance in American history, Juneteenth was always both a day of commemoration and a chance for African-Americans to honouring their history and to start celebrating Black culture.
Freed slaves in Texas in 1866 marked June 19 with anniversary celebrations in the Black community. It included prayer services and church gatherings. Over the years that followed, former slaves and their families continued to celebrate. It is their freedom with annual Juneteenth celebrations that also featured former slaves. Thus, giving inspirational speeches and reading from the Proclamation of Emancipation.
Historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner wrote in a 2007 essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and History”.
It is about the former slaves and their descendants who continue to observe the Juneteenth holiday for decades after 1865.
A group of former Texas slaves obtained more than $800 in 1872 to buy 10 acres of open land. It is close to what is now Houston, to use for annual Juneteenth celebrations. They called the parcel Emancipation Park, and it’s still the state ‘s oldest public park.
As newly liberated Texas slaves began resettling from across the country as part of The Great Migration of Former Slaves. The tradition of Juneteenth celebrations also spread throughout the next century. It is too new locations across the South and the rest of the U.S.
School Curriculum has No Mention of Juneteenth
However, according to Smithsonian Magazine, former Confederate states had little inclination to recognize Juneteenth. It is particularly during the post-Civil War Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras. As such, the “grass-roots” nature of Juneteenth celebrations has always been the standard far into the 20th century. Also, leading to the frequently ignored Juneteenth holiday among Americans outside the Black community.
In school curricula, this is no mention in books. As a result, the National Museum of African American History & Culture states that “this historic occurrence remains largely unknown to most Americans.” However, Juneteenth remained a major feast for the Texas Black community. Texas designated a day of observance for Juneteenth celebrations in 1938. It named as Emancipation Day, two years after up to 200,000 people turned out in Dallas for the Juneteenth celebrations.
Still, until 1980 Juneteenth did not become an official state holiday in Texas. The government offices of the state do not close for the holiday. Overall, in the middle of the 20th century, Juneteenth celebrations began. It is to see a wider resurgence among the Black community, especially among the movement for civil rights.
How Juneteenth is Celebrated?
The 10th of June celebrations is around the country each year. In 2019, thousands of people spent the holiday at Houston’s Emancipation Park. It is the piece of land originally for that very purpose. It is by a group of former slaves (and which in 2016 underwent a $33 million renovation). According to the traditions of the holiday, festivities will often feature some combination of religious services and storytelling. It is while black culture music, food, parades, and other jubilant festivities. Historians also point out barbecue will always be a holiday focal point.
Another common culinary at the Juneteenth celebrations is red-colour food and drink. The crimson is a symbol of ingenuity and bondage resilience, according to The New York Times. It is like a red punch and red velvet cake. Food historians also state that red food is influential. It is by the fact that in some western African cultures the colour red means strength.
This year’s renewed fight against racial injustice in America amplifies the significance of the holiday. The restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. It has had an effect on June 10th celebrations. Because of Covid-19 concerns, Houston’s annual Juneteenth parade calls off. Also, other cities followed suit, although some scheduled virtual events instead.