Even though Juneteenth just became a federal holiday in 2021, it doesn’t mean that Juneteenth is a “new” holiday. Juneteenth has been celebrated in many African-American communities, especially down south, since June 19, 1866. During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, many Black people celebrated Juneteenth 2020 because seeing Black people die at the hands of police brutality and gun violence sparked a massive trigger in the hearts, minds, and spirits of African-Americans. Juneteenth 2020, gave Black people in America and all around the world, time to rejoice, reclaim their freedom, and celebrate the brothers and sisters that no longer have the opportunity to celebrate with them. All Black Lives Matter and that is what Juneteenth represents.
On June 1, 1863, The Emancipation Proclamation, took effect giving enslaved African- Americans in Confederate states their freedom. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “ Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in the Confederate States. Only through the thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.”
BUT, Freedom for all Black lives didn’t go into full effect until 1865. On June 19, 1865, when union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, the army announced that “more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas.” (National Museum of African American History and Culture) During the post-Emancipation period, many African-Americans sought to reconnect with their families, become leaders in their communities, and become the change they wanted to see in the world. Now that in 2022, Juneteenth is recognized as a holiday, it shows that we are making strides in America but there are many ways that you can celebrate. The best way to celebrate is to educate. Whether you are black or not, educate yourself about how Black communities are still fighting for their freedom until this day. Take the time to ask yourself, even though Juneteenth is considered to be the Independence Day for Black people in America, do you think that all African-American lives are fully free and respected?