Juneteenth is celebrated by African Americans as African American Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas was finally informed of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed into law 2 years prior, giving them their freedom. This was a profound time in black people’s lives as they were finally freed and seen as such. They were then able to move about the states in search of and reunite with their families that were sold during slavery.
Unfortunately, this information wasn’t recorded in any schoolbooks. At least not in any books I was provided/exposed to while attending junior high and high school here in the United States. As an immigrant that migrated to the US in my teens, I have never attended a celebration or was informed of Juneteenth by anyone. I was in my late thirties when I learned of Juneteenth during news reports when the discussion about making it a national holiday was being debated. I believe it’s a disservice to keep this information from history books and not educating young people about the true history of the United States. While it wasn’t a time to be proud of, it shows where we have been and the growth we have made so far today. As President Biden states, Juneteenth is “a day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country…. But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.” I am happy that President, Joseph R. Biden Jr. has made it a national holiday. It is seen, at least in my eyes, as a giant step toward equality for all. I do believe we still have a long way to go before we can truly people of all color will experience equality and equity on a daily basis, however, I take comfort in knowing that a good portion of us black, white, and brown people are united in the belief that we are one.
As I learn about America’s history, and I work alongside my colleagues of multi-race who share my vision for the future, a common goal of helping all people in our community reach their true potential through the dignity of work, I am optimistic. I am hopeful that we will get to a place where we can celebrate our differences, acknowledge the past and embrace the future together.
There are many other ways we all can celebrate and commemorate the history behind Juneteenth such as:
I will be commemorating this Juneteenth with my family with a backyard barbeque. I will educate my kids on what it means and why it is a great day for African Americans.
Written by: Dorane Marsh