Wed. Jul 17th, 2024
"Juneteenth Flag" by euthman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19th every year and has been recognized as a state holiday or observance in 47 states. Juneteenth has been celebrated for over 150 years, but it was not until recently that it gained more widespread recognition.

Here are 10 important facts about the history of the Juneteenth holiday.

1. The Origin of Juneteenth
Juneteenth marks the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and announced that all enslaved people were free. This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

2. The Meaning of Juneteenth
The term “Juneteenth” is a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth.” It is also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day” and is a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

3. The Significance of Texas
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, it was not until 1865 that the news reached Texas. This was due to the lack of Union troops in the state to enforce the proclamation. Therefore, Texas became the last state to receive the news of the end of slavery.

4. The Celebration of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is celebrated in various ways, including parades, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for people to come together and reflect on the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout history.

5. ‘Slavery’ continued in the South after 1865
During reconstruction, after the U.S. Civil War ended in 1865, a new system of labor in the postbellum South was known as the convict lease system was developed. Under this system, inmates from high prison population could be leased for by the state. Most of the people imprisoned were Blacks unfairly convicted in court. Some historians believe convict leasing was as brutal and inhumane as slavery.

6. The Juneteenth Flag
The Juneteenth flag was created by Ben Haith in 1997 and has become a symbol of the holiday. The flag features a red, white, and blue background, representing the American flag, with a star in the middle. The star represents Texas, the Lone Star State, and the bursting “new star” symbolizes the freedom of African Americans in the United States.

7. The Juneteenth Food Traditions
Food is an essential part of Juneteenth celebrations. Traditional dishes include red foods such as watermelon, red velvet cake, and red beans and rice, which symbolize the bloodshed and resilience of African Americans during slavery.

8. Juneteenth Music Traditions
Music is also a significant part of Juneteenth celebrations. Traditional songs such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” were traditionally sung to honor the struggles and triumphs of African Americans.

9. The Juneteenth Legacy
For African Americans, Juneteenth is not only a celebration of the past but also a reminder of the ongoing fight for equality and justice. It serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done to achieve true freedom and equality for all.

10. The Growing Recognition of Juneteenth
Juneteenth has been celebrated for over 150 years, but the history of the holiday has become better known. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, making it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983.

Juneteenth is more than a holiday, it’s a time for reflection, education, and celebration of the progress that has been made. As we continue to strive for equality and justice, let us remember the importance of Juneteenth and its legacy.

Happy Juneteenth!