Exploring the History of Juneteenth


(NationRise.com) – Juneteenth, a simplification of June Nineteenth, is an important part of history as it represents the effective end of slavery in the United States. Named an official federal holiday this year, the day puts a spotlight on the descendants of slaves and the hurdles these people have overcome. Let’s take a quick look at the holiday of Juneteenth and understand why it has become a day of celebration for the black community.

What is Juneteenth?

The holiday marks the date when federal troops went into Texas to enforce federal law, which prohibited slavery. Slavery was still widespread across the Lone Star State until federal troops took control, but their arrival didn’t occur until 2 ½ years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth officially became a holiday, the first made by Congress in nearly four decades, on June 17th, 2021.

Behind the Times

Due to the lack of fighting and union troops overall, the state of Texas became a destination spot for slave owners. The Civil War had finally ended in 1865, when around 250,000 enslaved people were set free. However, this didn’t occur overnight, and not everyone was so lucky. Many of the plantation owners and enslavers waited until after their harvest season to inform their slaves that they were free.

Celebrating Juneteenth

The newly freed black people celebrated, as anyone would. The day was originally known as “Jubilee Day” and was first organized by Texas men who’d been freed. The annual celebration involves prayer, singing, music, barbecues and several other activities as it has for decades. As blacks moved into other parts of the US, leaving Texas, the tradition spread with them.

Recognized Holiday

Despite becoming a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth was first recognized as a holiday by the state of Texas in 1979. As years have passed, other states have followed in Texas’ footsteps, celebrating unofficially while they waited for recognition at the federal level. For some residents, the day is much like America’s Independence Day, a celebration of their break away from tyranny and injustice.

Slavery has been, and likely always will be, one of the darkest eras of American history. Thankfully, we have changed our ways and look forward to building a future in which we are truly united as a single people, the American people.

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