Juneteenth Statement of Power and Honor
The message that slavery had ended traveled slowly. It was 1865, and though the Civil War was over, for those who lived in areas far from Union armies, life continued as if freedom did not exist.
Though the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 had extended freedom to enslaved people, Confederate States refused to acknowledge the proclamation. Slaves were kept in captivity until 1965 in Texas.
Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.
Today, over 150 years later, Juneteenth is the only holiday that acknowledges the transition to freedom; a historic legacy that is an inalienable part of US history. That of enslavement and the journey that set Black people free.
What does it mean for us as a nation? For many, Juneteenth is still unfamiliar, not taught in history books or in communities throughout this country. Juneteenth, finally, found its way onto the federal holiday list, nestled between Memorial Day and July 4th. Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. Monday, June 20, 2022, is the second Juneteenth officially recognized as a federal holiday in the U.S.
Most importantly, celebrating Juneteenth is an opportunity to both educate and honor. It is a holiday that resoundingly emphasizes that history matters. That, in order to overcome, one has to define what we “overcame.”
Juneteenth is that opportunity. An invitation to honor the bravery, courage, tenacity, and culture of a people who refused to bow under adversity. Juneteenth was created to recognize the history of those whose freedom deserves to be celebrated. Our latest federal holiday involves recognizing from where we came, our progress, and a promise that there is no turning back because we are collectively headed forward.