Celebrating Juneteenth

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Juneteenth has been celebrated since the late 1800s, but recently there has been an awakened interest in learning more about the celebration. With a renewed sense of awareness, more people of all races have begun to learn about this holiday that celebrates freedom for ALL.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free. A century and a half later, people in cities and towns across the U.S. continue to celebrate the occasion.

 What is Juneteenth?

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va.,Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

How is it celebrated?

The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.

Celebrations reached new heights in 1872 when a group of African-American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. The space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration.

Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards where food is an integral element, some cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, like parades and festivals with residents, local businesses and more.

While celebrations in 2020 were largely subdued by the coronavirus pandemic, some cities this year are pressing forward with plans.

In 2021, the city will dedicate a 5,000 square-foot mural, entitled “Absolute Equality,” on the spot where General Granger informed enslaved African-Americans of their freedom. The city will also mark the holiday with a parade and picnic. Events and activities in Atlanta this year have been scaled back, but organizers have made plans for a parade and music festival at Centennial Olympic Park. Similar events are scheduled in Annapolis, Md.ChicagoDetroit and  Los Angeles.

To read more about this special day, including its regional and national holiday status and why it has become increasingly important in recent years, read the full article from The New York Times,  HERE.


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