By: Dawn Hilton-Williams
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH
Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day, celebrates the marking of the end of slavery in the United States, with its’ origins centering around when the last known enslaved people in America learned they were free; two years after the emancipation proclamation.
In 1863, during the civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free.
However, more than two years would pass, before the news reached hundreds of thousandsof African Americans, still toiling in slavery.
TEXAS & JUNETEENTH
Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 with 2,000 union soldiers, informing shocked slaves that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had been abolished.
The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance giving way to a annual commemoration of Juneteenth.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and as time passed, other states followed suit with the exception of the states of Hawaii, South and North Dakota.
Red represents the millions of men and women who have lost their lives. Most recently, we remember not only civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and countless other slain heroes, but we also remember Black people who have been unjustly killed in recent years, including but not limited to Daunte Wright, Rayshard Brooks, Atatiana Jefferson, Bothan Jean, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Akai Gurley, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamil Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more
Black represents melanin, the soil of the Nile valley and the unification of the African diaspora. "Black compels us to remember that we Black men and women are all unified as members of one family," says the Pan-African Alliance.
Green represents fertility, productivity and prosperity and the fertile cradle of Africa.
Much more than a random annual picnic or party Juneteenth is a day set aside to remember those we’ve lost, to recognize the end of slavery and to celebrate the innumerable culturural contributions and achievements of African Americans.