Juneteenth, now a National holiday to commemorate the ending of slavery in the US. We celebrate this day as “America’s second Independence Day”.
Agency 8 Celebrates Freedom on Juneteeth. This Holiday hits close to home…literally! Originating it’s history in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1866.
History of Juneteeth
It took almost 3 years after President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation (issued on January 1, 1863) to finally see the true end to slavery. Although slavery had officially been outlawed, the news moved slowly to Texas. You see, Texas was the westernmost edge of the Confederate territories with the least Union presence. South of Houston, on the island of Galveston, Texas, the last slaves were informed of the news at Ashton Villa. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied upon the advance of Union troops. Texas was the most remote state of the former Confederacy and enforcement had been slow and inconsistent prior to Granger’s announcement. At the Reedy Chapel-AME Church in Galveston, the official order was read that informed all Texans that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free.
Until now, this momentous day was not a federally recognized holiday. Thanks to passionate community activists like Miss Opal Lee from Ft. Worth, Texas, the importance of this day is known. Now in 2021, we celebrate as President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. It is the first federal holiday to be established since 1983, when then-President Ronald Reagan added Martin Luther King Jr. day to the nationally recognized calendar.
We celebrate this day to reflect on freedom, equality, respect for diversity, and human kindness. We can’t erase our past but we can reflect on the lessons. We celebrate joy within the Black community and the journey toward liberation.
While Juneteenth recognizes over a century and a half of progress, it also reminds Americans to continue to build a more equitable and unified nation.