Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating a very important moment in the history of the United States – the announcement of the emancipation of slaves. In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that charged all enslaved people in the Confederate States of America in rebellion to be set free. Because of the Civil War, however, the proclamation had no power in Texas, so the only way for local slaves to be free was escape. The number of slaves in Texas was increasing and by 1865 there were more or less 250,000 of them. This is why on June 18, the Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas in order to advise the slaves that the war has ended and they are free. It took over 2 years for the emancipation announcement issued by Lincoln to reach the slaves from Texas. Finally, on June 19, 1865, “General Order No. 3” was read aloud by the General from the balcony of Ashton Villa, which was an official announcement of the total emancipation of all slaves – even though they were already free since 1862.
Why is Juneteenth called Juneteenth?
The name Juneteenth is simply a combination of two words: June and nineteenth, which is supposed to remind the important date when the Texas slaves became free.
When did Juneteenth become a holiday?
Although the former slaves made attempts to celebrate every anniversary of the memorable emancipation announcement, Juneteenth was not perceived as a holiday until 1980. What is interesting, it was Texas that as the first state declared Juneteenth as a state holiday.
Is June 19th a federal holiday or a public holiday?
Forty-six out of fifty states observe Juneteenth either as a state holiday, or a day of observance. However, it still is not a federal holiday, even though Barack Obama aimed at making it a national holiday. In the states where Juneteenth is a public holiday it is also a day off for much of the population, with schools and some businesses closed. Many events are connected with celebrating the holiday: baseball games, barbecues, rodeos, concerts or parades. The red color has become a symbol of Juneteenth, as it represents resilience, so many types of food and drinks are red on that day, for example “red soda water” or strawberry soda. In some states it is also common to serve Marcus Garvey salad with red, green and black beans.
Did you know?
A year after June 19, 1865, the former slaves decided to celebrate this anniversary, yet it turned out to be very difficult for them – they were not permitted to use any public places or parks. They did not give up, however. In the 1870s they have raised $800 and purchased a land that they perceived as “Emancipation Park”. For decades it was the only public place with a swimming pool open to African Americans.
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