Juneteenth celebrates American freedom and what it stands for. Previously and also known as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Emancipation Day, it commemorates the date when all slaves were declared free. Juneteenth celebrates the freedom and the fundamental truth that all people are created equal and that freedom and liberty is the right of everyone in America.
While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 (formally on January 1, 1863), several states were late to join. The date, June 19th, is the date of the last state included in the proclamation order, Texas, officially enforced emancipation.
Texas Emancipation Order
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” - General Orders, Number 3 - issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865
Other states have had Jubilee Celebrations on the dates when emancipation became effective their state. However, Juneteenth became more widespread and started to become an official state holiday in several states, starting with Texas in 1979. Unfortunately, Texas reaffirmed its commitment to Confederate Heroes Day as well. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery altogether in the United States, was passed on December 6th, 1865. But still, Juneteenth stuck as the day to celebrate.
Official National U.S. Holiday
Juneteenth began as a celebration for newly freed slaves in Texas, but grew to be celebrated in a majority of U.S. states. Even some other countries have Juneteenth celebrations. It took 156 years to gain the respect it deserved as a holiday. On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and made the day a federal holiday. The law was immediately enacted just in time for the June 19th to be celebrated in 2021. Federal offices will be closed on June 19th or the Friday or Monday before or after if it falls on a weekend.
"When we establish a national holiday, it makes an important statement. National Holidays are something important. These are days when we a nation have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history. " - Vice President Kamala Harris
President Biden tweeted the news
“All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” - President Biden at a White House ceremony announcing the proclamation of the first National holiday established since Martin Luther King’s Birthday in 1983.
This date is a reason for celebration. It is a time when humanity took a step forward to treat all people equally.