On Sunday, June 19, Americans will observe Juneteenth. This is the nation’s youngest federal holiday and it became officially recognized last year by President Joe Biden.
Juneteenth came to national prominence in 2020 when people all over the country protested after two black people, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, were killed by the police. Their deaths showed that there is still racism in the justice system, and that slavery still affects how black people are treated by the police.
Governor Kay Ivey authorized Juneteenth as a holiday for workers in the state this month. This means that people will have the day off to celebrate. Forty-seven other states already recognize it as a holiday.
What is the significance of Juneteenth? Here’s what we know:
What is Juneteenth?
The holiday commemorates the day when President Abraham Lincoln freed enslaved African Americans in secessionist states. The Emancipation Proclamation was an important document that helped to end slavery.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced that all slaves were free. However, some slave owners ignored this proclamation. Major General Gordon demanded that all residents of Galveston obey the law.
Why is it called Juneteenth?
Texas was the last Confederate state to recognize Juneteenth, the day when enslaved people were freed in Galveston. The first Juneteenth celebration happened in 1866. As African Americans migrated away from the South, Juneteenth spread across the country.
Why is Juneteenth important?
The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all enslaved African Americans. Juneteenth is a day to remember the conditions of some Americans who were freed by law. The proclamation said that people in states that seceded from the United States, like Texas, were free. But people in states that did not secede, like Maryland, were not free. The 13th Amendment freed all enslaved people in the United States.
When did Juneteenth become a federal holiday?
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was passed by Congress in 2021. The Senate unanimously passed the bill, and Biden signed it into law on June 17. Juneteenth is two days before the act was signed.
The federal government followed the lead of 47 states in recognizing Juneteenth.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., first introduced the Juneteenth bill in 2020 in the wake of the murders of Floyd and Taylor, but it did not pass.
“Today’s Senate passage of our legislation to commemorate Juneteenth as a federal holiday will address this long-ignored gap in our history, recognize the wrong that was done, acknowledge the pain and suffering of generations of slaves and their descendants, and finally celebrate their freedom,” Markey said on June 17 of last year.
Federal employees are given a day off every year on June 19. This year, because June 19 falls on a Sunday, the day off is on Monday, June 20.
Do people celebrate the holiday? Is it OK to say ‘Happy Juneteenth’?
Juneteenth is a day when people celebrate the end of slavery. People have parades, barbecues, and other fun activities. There is also usually a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth Day is a day to celebrate the end of slavery in America. The color red is often associated with this day, because it is featured on the red, white, and blue Juneteenth flag. This flag symbolizes that “from the middle passage to George Floyd, our blood has been spilled across America,” according to Steve Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
Saying, “Happy Juneteenth” is an appropriate way to celebrate.
The foundation is having a Juneteenth Freedom Festival on June 17-19 in Washington, D.C.
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