Have you heard of Juneteenth? If you have, when was the first time you had heard of this holiday? I first heard of Juneteenth about a few years ago. And when I looked into it – I learned that it was when the last enslaved people in Texas were told that President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been official two years prior – in 1863. So, people were still working on plantations even though they were legally free for two years!
I had not heard of this term or holiday at any time during my school years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned about this, and I wonder why? Why aren’t we taught about this significant event in school? Let’s learn about this holiday.
What is Juneteenth?
As mentioned above, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863. On June 19, 1865, two and half years later, the Union soldiers, which were led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived at Galveston, Texas, to inform them that the war had ended and enslaved people were now free. So, according to Juneteenth.com, “Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.”
Why did it take two years for this news to travel down to Texas? While different versions of the answers have been told throughout the years, like messengers were murdered on their way down or that the news was withheld purposely to continue to use slave labor, but those versions could or could not be accurate.
How is Juneteenth Celebrated?
Juneteenth is usually celebrated with baseball, rodeos, fishing, and barbecuing, but the celebration may be different in different states. The biggest celebration takes place in Texas. The focus of this day is usually education and self-improvement. Prayer is also a part of the celebrations.
Certain food symbolizes this day, like strawberry soda and red velvet cake. ( https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a32893726/what-is-juneteenth/ ) People bring a special dish, and certain meats, which were not usually available to enslaved people, like pork, beef, and lamb, are eaten as part of the celebration.
Check out your local listings online to see how your city celebrates Juneteenth. If there isn’t any in your area, you can still honor and celebrate Black culture by purchasing and reading a book by a black author, supporting a black-owned business, or watching a movie that honors a black person’s life.
Why Did the Celebration of Juneteenth Decline
According to Juneteenth.com, the cultural and economic forces led to the decline of participants in the celebration of Juneteenth in the early 1900s, according to Juneteenth.com. And The Depression made many people move from farms into cities to find work, and these employers were not too willing to provide this day off.
Juneteenth.com also mentions how textbooks only talk about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamations of January 1, 1863, with little to no mention of General Granger’s arrival in 1865.
This is most likely why I had not heard about this in school or mentioned this holiday until recent years.
I feel it’s important for us to educate ourselves about US history, Black history, Native American history, Women’s history, etc., because schools only cover a part of history, not all of it.
Do you celebrate Juneteenth? If so, how do you celebrate? What other historical events have you learned about recently?
With Love, Heidy
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