What is Juneteenth and how to celebrate it in 2021
While celebrations in 2020 were largely subdued by the coronavirus pandemic, some cities this year are pressing forward with plans.
From Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. A day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing.
It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities, and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.
Emancipation Proclamation of 1862
President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 had officially outlawed slavery in Texas. The other states that had rebelled against the Union almost two and a half years earlier. Enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied on the advance of troops within the Union. Texas, as the most remote of the slave states, had seen an expansion of slavery and had a low presence of Union troops as the American Civil War ended.
Therefore enhancement there had been slow and inconsistent prior to Granger’s announcement. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery in the Confederate States, slavery was still legal and practiced in two Union border states – Delaware and Kentucky. Until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished chattel slavery nationwide. In Addition, Indian Territories had sided with the Confederacy. Namely, the Choctaw were the last to release those enslaved, in 1866.
How is it celebrated?
The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants, according to Juneteenth.com, which tracks celebrations. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.
Celebrations reached new heights in 1872 when a group of African American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. Space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards where food is an integral element, some cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, like parades and festivals with residents, local businesses, and more.
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