What is Juneteenth?

Submitted by CCCL_DavidG

Most Americans celebrate July 4 as Independence Day. This national holiday commemorates the declaration of the United States as free and independent of British rule as of 1776. However, there is another national holiday celebrating independence. That day is Juneteenth.  

Following the end of the American Civil War, on June 19, 1865, approximately two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Black slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that slavery had officially ended. This became known as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, later replaced by Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”. While Juneteenth is not an official federal holiday, it has been recognized as such, opens a new window by Congress and is celebrated as a state holiday in 46 out of the 50 states.  

Across the country, regional Juneteenth celebration traditions differ. Often there are parades, rodeos, family gatherings and cookouts. Here in the Bay Area there are a number of celebrations taking place, opens a new window, some of which can be enjoyed from home, including a theater production, opens a new window and a blues performance/historical presentation, opens a new window. Locally, Antioch honors the holiday with the Juneteenth Peace Walk, Arts & Music, opens a new window (11:00 am – 3:00 pm), in Pittsburg there’s a March for Justice, opens a new window at 3:00 pm.  

The Juneteenth flag, seen in the picture, represents a star of Texas bursting with new freedom throughout the land, over a new horizon. It serves a symbol that gives all Americans the opportunity to recognize American freedom & African American History.

If you want to learn more about Juneteenth, here is an article from the New York Times, opens a new window. You can get free digital access, opens a new window the NY Times with your library card.