Juneteenth (June 19th), also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day is a holiday that marks the end of slavery in the United States, and right now celebrating it is important than ever.
June 19th marks the day when news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas, carried by Union Gen. Gordon Granger- two and a half years after it was abolished by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Juneteenth is a celebration of the true end of slavery, as Vox notes, for millions in the deepest parts of the confederacy, and it’s observed across the U.S. in honor of that emancipation and serves as a way to bring awareness to today’s continuing racial inequality.
Juneteenth is not a well-known holiday, and it is often not discussed in schools. “I think the question of if Juneteenth is well-known and understood is directly tied to the history of slavery not being well-understood” Karlos Hill, a professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Vox in an interview. All we can do is to expand the conversation and spread awareness of such an important event in black history.
On #Juneteenth2018, we celebrate the abolition of slavery & lift up Black Americans, documented & undocumented, who continue to endure the legacy of racism & xenophobia. We have a long road ahead in the fight for justice & equity but together we will prevail. #PoorPeoplesCampaignpic.twitter.com/MAgOCXR8Kd
— Define American 🇺🇸 (@DefineAmerican) June 19, 2018
As the U.S. continues to come to terms with its history in the era of the Black Lives Matter Movement, police brutality, mass incarceration and general inequality, “Juneteenth is a moment where we step back and try to understand the Civil War through the eyes of enslaved people” says Hill.
Because, as a country, the U.S. still shies away from discussion of the its past injustices, it’s important to use this holiday to acknowledge the trauma inflicted on an entire population. Hill closed the interview with this call-to-action. “There hasn’t been a national accounting, and I think the Juneteenth holiday is kind of a reminder of that. And it will continue to be a reminder and a haunting until we do” he says.
To commemorate the 153 anniversary of Juneteenth, President Donald Trump released a statement that read “As a Nation, we vow to never forget the millions of African Americans who suffered the evils of slavery. Together, we honor the unbreakable spirit and countless contributions of generations of African Americans to the story of American greatness.”
On #Juneteenth2018, we celebrate the abolition of slavery & the generations of African Americans & their allies who have carried on the struggle for equal rights. We honor their resilience & stand beside them in the fight for equality with this spoken-word piece by @philo_301. 🔊 pic.twitter.com/j3pvnfc2Tb
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) June 19, 2018
Hopefully this day will be treated as a reminder for the horrors so many African Americans were forced to endure, and will encourage the country as a whole to take a more critical look at the ways that African Americans are still treated in the U.S. today.