Every year on June 19, the celebration of “Juneteenth” takes place. Also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, or Freedom Day, the holiday commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas.
Though the Juneteenth observation was originally a day of great historical importance in Texas, today it more widely represents the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans across the entire south.
Those familiar with history may note the fact that June 19, 1865 is more that 2 years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation thereby freeing all slaves. Various reasons are cited for the delay, including the war itself which raged on for 3 more years. There are also those who believe that the news was intentionally delayed to help plantation owners.
Whatever the reasons for the delay, it was on June 19, 1865 that Federal Troops arrived in Texas to impose order and bring the civil war to an end in the state. Since that day, Juneteenth has been recognized although it didn’t become an official state holiday in Texas until 1980.
Juneteenth is one of the oldest celebrations commemorating the end of slavery and today it is observed not just in Texas but across the country. In more recent times the celebration has enjoyed a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations across the country. Some of the more famous organizations that have begun to sponsor Juneteenth centered activities include the Smithsonian and the Henry Ford Museum.
June 19, 2018 will be a day of parades, church services, and cook outs joined by thousands of people expected to take to the streets for walking parades across the country. But Juneteenth is also a day to celebrate not only the end of slavery but African-American achievement. It is a day to encourage continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.