Black American Independence Day – Juneteenth


Over the past few years, there has been a reemergence of celebrations around Juneteenth. But, what is Juneteenth, why is it relevant, and how is it celebrated? Being a certified diversity-owned organization, we find meaning in recognizing Juneteenth; as we strive to educate, inspire, and engage our communities.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It takes place on June 19th and is celebrated by millions of people across the country. The holiday marks the day, in 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that all enslaved people in Texas were free.

Despite what many people think, or the stories told, President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which declared all slaves in the Confederate states to be free, didn’t have any “teeth” in the claim. Most slaves couldn’t read and that information was not given by the slave owners to their slaves; many hadn’t heard they were “free”. In fact, many enslaved people in Texas did not learn of their freedom until Granger's announcement. This delay was due to the lack of Union troops in the area to enforce the proclamation.

Why is this holiday still relevant?

Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the injustices and atrocities committed during the era of slavery, and it honors the resilience and strength of African Americans throughout history. It is also a time to reflect on the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality in the United States. For many black Americans, it is their version of the 4th of July, Independence Day.

How is it celebrated?

Juneteenth is celebrated in many different ways, depending on the region and community. Some common traditions include parades, picnics, music festivals, and historical reenactments. Food is also an important part of the celebration, with traditional dishes like barbecue, red beans and rice, and sweet potato pie often being served.

Is it really a holiday?

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Recognition by the federal government is an important step towards acknowledging the significance of Juneteenth and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

Although Juneteenth has only come back into the spotlight recently, it is an important holiday that celebrates the end of formalized slavery in the United States and honors the resilience, strength, and contributions of African Americans throughout history. It is an important reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality, and allows for open discussion about the USA’s past, present, and future for equality and justice for all.

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