US President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and enacted it as Law in 2021 just two days before June 19. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday commemorating the end of enslaved African Americans in the US.
Juneteenth Originated in Galveston and is now celebrated every year on the 19th of June in different regions of the United States for more than 160 years now. It is also referred to as America’s second Independence Day which is all about celebrating the African-American culture.
We will cover all about Juneteenth, its history, and the way it is celebrated in our article today. Keep scrolling!
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth marks the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger on 19th June 1865 thereby proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas.
On this day, several enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were set free after the northern US states defeated the South in the US Civil War which occurred between 1961 to 1965. It is seen by historians as the end of slavery.
It took more than two and a half years after then-President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation by declaring that all enslaved people are set free by the rebellious states. There were approximately 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.
The Executive Order
The order informed the natives of Texas that as per a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free, stating, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. 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”
The order added, “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.”
The day is called Juneteenth, by merging the two words “June” and “nineteenth”. Juneteenth is usually celebrated on the third Saturday in June.
In 1980, Juneteenth was initially declared a state holiday in Texas. All states except South Dakota formally recognized it as a state holiday for many decades.
When Barack Obama was the senator for Illinois, he co-sponsored legislation to declare Juneteenth a national holiday. However, it was never passed in the senate even during his tenure as US president.
The legislation gathered momentum two years ago after the Black Lives Matter protests were held across the nation. In order to raise awareness among people and encourage lawmakers, 89-year-old Opal Lee walked from Texas to Washington DC in 2016.
She used to walk 2.5 miles daily as a symbolic representation of the two and a half years of struggle by the enslaved people in Texas to understand they had been freed.
Ms. Lee said after it was approved by Congress as the new federal holiday, “I’ve got so many different feelings all gurgling up in here. I don’t know what to call them all. I am so delighted to know that suddenly we’ve got a Juneteenth.
“It’s not a Texas thing or a black thing. It’s an American thing”, she added.
As this year June 19th is falling on Sunday, the compensatory day off would be on Monday.
Speaking about the celebrations on this day, you can find public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing of traditional songs, and reading of popular African-American writers’ works. Organizing rodeos, street fairs, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, etc are also part of Juneteenth celebrations.
We, the team at TheTealMango wish you all a “Happy Juneteenth”. Stay tuned for more latest news and updates!