Make Juneteenth your Liberation Day
No matter your color, your ethnic group or religion you must consider this year celebrating Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day, is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States that is observed annually on June 19. Juneteenth is celebrated on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas on June 19, 1865. That was when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston and told Texans that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.
This year Juneteenth has a special meaning because of all of the efforts being made to deny Black people, other people of color and students access to the ballot box. This is an open attack on democracy and on our humanity.
The Declaration of Independence did not address the conditions of Black people, Latinos, Asians, the indigenous women and other people of color. Over the years many groups saw that the Fourth of July was not their Independence Day and that they needed to find another way to celebrate their lives.
In response to lack of inclusion many groups created their own dates to celebrate. The Irish celebrated St. Patrick’s Day; Italians, Columbus Day (but that one is disappearing and being replaced by Indigenous Peoples Day); Mexicans began celebrating Mexican Independence Day on September 16; the Chinese their own New Year, women International Women’s Day, the Puerto Rican Day Parade (June 12) Octoberfest for the Germans and the list goes on.
Many commemorations like Cinco De Mayo began on a foundation of history, but soon were taken over by a corporate push for consumption of too much food and quite often too many alcoholic beverages. We must keep our eyes on the prize.
Today we are facing yet another deadly virus and this is one of racism and oppression. The history of slavery, Jim Crow and now the new modern Jim/Jane Crow laws and attitudes must make us want to consider participating in Juneteenth.
And me? Well, I am on a Juneteenth community advisory committee for the town of Clarkston, Georgia for a multicultural celebration that helps to build an understanding of Juneteenth and other people’s struggles for freedom.
This year, Juneteenth is a day for celebration but also a time to educate, motivate and activate people to stand together, march together and vote together on behalf of human rights for everyone.