Yesterday was Juneteenth, a holiday that I only knew a little bit about... much like a lot of other US history having to do with the maltreatment of African Americans. School did not teach me much about the plight, the abuse, the torture and trauma and evil inflicted on the black population by this country. And not just in the past, but also in the day to day currently. I was pretty ignorant. Although my ignorance is largely not my fault - it’s a result of the systematically racist, denial-filled, privilege-lead, self-serving bigoted patriarchy that’s been in charge of government, education, and societal norms for waaaay too long - it is in my power to end my ignorance. To do some research, to listen when people share stories of outrage and pain, to be open and understanding of new information. To find out more about the history being called into light today.
So on that note, I would like to share some of what I have learned about Juneteenth and the history it represents:
Juneteenth is also know as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day... but sadly is not yet recognized as a National Holiday (although many states have individually recognized the day as a state holiday)
The specific June 19th date originates with the freeing of slaves in the (then Confederate) state of Texas, who had still been enslaved for two years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
It’s estimated that during those 2+ years (from the Emancipation in 1863 to 1865 when the federal troops arrived at Galveston Island, Texas) that 250,000 people were still enslaved.
Early Juneteenth celebrations were also used to give voting information to newly freed sales.
Juneteenth is a reminder of history disgustingly repeating itself: that over and over again black Americans have been denied freedom, justice, and equal treatment. For instance, in the late 1890’s a number of states (including Texas) passed legislation excluding black people from political processes and devaluing their lives, and snuffing out their voices.
In the years between 1936 and 1951 a revival of celebrations of Juneteenth swept Texas. Including a ‘Juneteenth Jamboree’ in Dallas having apx. 70,000 attendees.
Juneteenth is hailed as the longest running African American holiday and is also referred to as America’s Second Independence Day.
In the words of Mitch Kachun, the holiday is meant “to celebrate, to educate, and to agitate”. It’s a powerful day.
Be a part of change by sharing stories, information, and honest history.
Because Black Lives Matter.
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