Juneteenth is a historic day of freedom - a day that commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves in the United States. Juneteenth was first celebrated in Galveston and is considered the “Longest-Running African American Holiday.” So why is this holiday so important and what do we celebrate today? After President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863, enslaved Black people were finally free; however, it took two more years for nearly 250,000 slaves in Texas to experience that freedom. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, TX to enforce the executive order which declared these enslaved people free!
Although Juneteenth has been declared a federal holiday as of 2021 and there is much to celebrate - there is still much work to be done. The freedom of African Americans from slavery was merely a starting point in the fight for equal rights. Today the Black Community continues to experience incomprehensible inequity, inequality, and injustice. Let us not forget that even though this day is celebrated around the country, the struggle for complete liberation continues.
“Let's make Juneteenth a commemorative, not of the horrific institution our country embraced, but rather as a showcase of the strength in the American spirit to recognize wrong and set about making it right. In this same spirit, America moves ahead today in leveling playing fields and achieving ever greater equality. Let us celebrate all that Juneteenth teaches us about our country's greatness in our use of the heart to hear and to learn and to work together for all that is good and just.”
- John Albuquerque