The Historical Legacy Behind Juneteenth
Last year was a memorable one for many reasons reasons we still are leveling out today. Without getting too political, our country faced both economical and social injustices and although COVID wreaked havoc on our communities, it also shined light in areas that we had left dark for so long. After the murder of George Floyd, society was ready to battle another urgent matter on top of the ongoing fight against the alien virus. People were seeking answers and explanations. People were seeking their voices and the justice they deserved, and a lot of ground was covered! From racial monuments and structures being torn down to professional sports teams being renamed, the fight for equality was underway. Fast forward a year or so and that’s where Juneteenth comes in.
On Thursday, June 17th 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation station that June 19th would now be considered a national holiday, known as Juneteenth. This day was established to commemorate the final end to slavery in the United States. On the eve of January 1st, 1863, the Thirteenth Amendment, which was to abolish slavery throughout the country, was to take place. On what historians refer to as “Freedom’s Eve”, enslaved African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country, waiting for news that the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect. Though this day brought many answered prayers, the Emancipation Proclamation could not be implemented in place still under Confederate Control, resulting in the continuation of slavery in the western front of the Confederate state of Texas. As a result, some enslaved people would not see freedom until over 2 years later.
Freedom finally made it’s official appearance on June 19th, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with some good news. The army stated that more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans in the state, were now free by executive decree and Juneteenth making its debut. Not even a generation out of slavery and African Americans were empowered to transform their lives and their country. Schools were established, families were reunited, and the formerly enslaved even started to run for office, push for radical legislation adjustments, and even sue slaveholders for compensation. After over 200 years of slavery, seeing changes of this magnitude and in such a short amount of time was nothing short of amazing.
Although Juneteenth has been long celebrated by the African American community, this history making event remains vastly unknown to most Americans, even though Juneteenth is considered our country’s second Indepence Day. The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the importance of always keeping the spirit of hope and fighting for what is right. It also shows us that every person you meet and every person you pass at the grocery store has a story and a history. A story we don’t know but one we should respect. Be kind to one another, friends. Support those around you and encourage them in whichever battle they are facing. We only have one Earth and one community. Let’s make the most of it.
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