This article is a complete guide on when is Juneteenth and why it is celebrated every year
National days exist to be celebrated and remembered about history. Every national day holds a special meaning behind it because of the struggles and sacrifices our ancestors had to give for the sake of living in a better world, which is today.
National holidays are given by the government as respect and celebration to remember that certain day. National holidays include independence day, labor day, memorial day, and many more depending on the country’s history. Just like these holidays, there is Juneteenth that is celebrated every year. Juneteenth is celebrated widely by the African American people around the world.
You might wonder when is Juneteenth? Juneteenth holds a special place in Americans’ hearts because of its long history. If you have no idea when is Juneteenth and why is it celebrated, here is all you need to know about Juneteenth:
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is one of the most important days in the history of the United States. It is a day of celebration and thankfulness to the Americans.
Juneteenth is a national day to celebrate the freedom of African-Americans from slavery. This is the day when the law of slavery was lifted by the end of the Civil War and African Americans were free to live their lives by their own choice.
Juneteenth holds a special meaning to Black Americans because it reminds them of their ancestors’ hard past and the sacrifice of lives they gave for the sake of freedom.
Juneteenth has a long history that dates back to the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 in America, fought by civilians for the sake of freedom. The enslaved Black people fought to gain the rights of freedom and to end slavery.
The Civil War lasted for four years during which, in 1863, Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln to the Confederacy to free more than three million Black slaves from their states.
Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States during the Civil War. He played an important role during the Civil War to free the slaves in return for the victory of the Union. His main goal was to preserve the Union forces and abolish slavery. The bill he signed was not enough to free slaves from all the states but only from those that lived in the rebelling states of the Confederacy.
Although the treaty was signed on 1 January 1863, it took two years for the news to spread around the states of America about the end of slavery. There were so many Confederate states where Black slaves reside so it took time to reach every state and break the news.
The last African Americans to hear about the news were the ones living in Texas when the Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived to break the news to them. The day Granger arrived in Galveston was the 19th of June.
This is what Granger announced to the Black people: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer,”
All the years of slavery had left Americans helpless and depressed, Juneteenth was like a miracle of their efforts that brought them freedom. The soldiers that left for war came home to their families to celebrate. During the Civil War, many lives were lost in the span of four years for the sake of freedom and equality. Although freeing the slaves took more years because there were too many and some slave owners kept it hidden from the slaves about Emancipation, those who did get freedom celebrated this day every year since then.
Why is Juneteenth celebrated?
A celebration that has been taking place for so many years holds a very important meaning. Juneteenth is celebrated every year to remember injustice and to remind people of equality and human rights through marches.
African Americans consider it a celebration as well as an awareness of human rights around the world. As slavery was the highest form of violation of human rights, they remind the world to establish equal rights for everyone.
Black people take pride in abolishing slavery through their own hard work and this is why Juneteenth holds a special place in their hearts. It is an important event, so you should know when is Juneteenth celebrated.
When is Juneteenth celebrated?
So, if it took years to free the enslaved black people, when is Juneteenth celebrated? It is celebrated on 19th June every year. Combining the month of June and the date 19th together it is known as “Juneteenth”. The whole month of June is called ‘Black History Month’ because all the major events that happened in this month holds importance to Black people.
African Americans consider it an honor to be part of a bigger history that marks their ancestor’s identity which was robbed from them when they were slaves. Today it is celebrated as a federal festival and the second independence day for the Americans.
To give importance to Juneteenth, Joe Biden signed a bill to establish a law for Juneteenth to be commemorated as a national holiday. This bill was signed in June 2021, and Black people widely celebrated this achievement.
What does Juneteenth symbolize?
Juneteenth symbolizes the idea of hope that better days are to come for all. As Juneteenth was celebrated a year after the legislation, the people considered this as a symbol of hope for better days.
They lived in so much despair and pain, bound by masters who treated them cruelly. Juneteenth was like a dream come true for them to live. They had yearned for freedom for centuries that was granted to them during the month.
Juneteenth is also a symbol of protecting the identity of black people that was slowly fading away with time. They highlighted their music, art, and literature to keep their identity alive.
Furthermore, there were many slaves who were brought from Africa without any family or friends with them. These slaves suffered death alone with no name or family history attached to them. Juneteenth is solidarity to remember those whose identity was erased by the oppressors.
Flag of Juneteenth
The flag of Juneteenth was designed specifically to highlight the importance of the day. The flag of Juneteenth symbolizes the sacrifice of the black people.
It was designed by activist Ben Haith who founded the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF). He worked with an art illustrator, Lisa Jeanne Graf, and other collaborators in 1999 to come up with the best design that represented the event well. In 2000, the official flag of Juneteenth was revised and finally released.
The flag of Juneteenth is beautifully illustrated. There is a white star at the center of the flag that symbolizes Texas that got the news of slavery abolishment after two years.
This star also represents all fifty states of America where African Americans live. There is a burst outline of the star is a sign of a new beginning for Black people after slavery was abolished. A curve is also on the flag’s width which represents the promised opportunities and success of the African Americans.
The colors are exceptionally beautiful because of their meaning attached to Black people. The color was carefully chosen to portray the effect of Juneteenth. There are three colors in the flag. The star and burst are of white in two colors, blue and red. The blue, white, and red colors come from America’s official flag. The colors symbolize that the slaves were Americans and their descendants are also Americans.
As America’s flag represents liberty and freedom for all, Juneteenth’s flag is also a representation of that message for African Americans.
The flag is widely displayed during the month of June and especially on Juneteenth for its deep meaning and importance.
How is Juneteenth celebrated?
Juneteenth is celebrated in different ways just like any other national holiday. Every individual has a different way of celebrating the love and history of the Black community. The celebration of Juneteenth is done all across the United States.
African Americans have been celebrating since 1965 on a yearly basis. The celebrations grew in size and spread around the whole country slowly as Black people moved from Southern parts of America to other cities.
Here is how Juneteenth is celebrated in America:
Some people celebrate it among families, they have get-togethers and dinners. You might see some people singing in the backyards to celebrate the old lullabies and songs their ancestors used to sing.
They consider this as a way of remembering their great-grandparents. By singing songs of freedom and equality, they highlight the importance of their identity and culture.
In big cities like Texas, there are parades and marches which people enjoy on the streets. They are decorated with different themes like Black art, music, and performances.
In one of the cities, Denver, there are more than 3,000 people who participate in the parade that promotes the history and culture of African Americans through demonstration. Together, they promote the essence of equality and freedom among Black people.
Emancipation Park in Houston was bought to commemorate Juneteenth by the Black people.
The African American community, led by 4 Black men, collected around $800 to purchase the 10 acres of land that was exclusively for black people to celebrate their freedom and the end of slavery.
Now, every year there are thousands of gatherings on Juneteenth to remember the moment and celebrate it with the world. There are performances and art displays by Black people to share happiness with everyone.
African American people believe in community gatherings as part of their heritage. Juneteenth is an event that gives them the time and opportunity to interact and celebrate with their fellow Black people.
These community gatherings are important because it helps them to know each other’s history as well. The black community loves to celebrate this day as their independence day. Before the bill was passed this year, people used to take holidays themselves to celebrate this day.
There are concerts planned for Juneteenth where mostly African American singers perform for the audience. The concerts empower the Black community to recognize the signature HipHop, Rap, and Blues Music that their ancestors sang.
The original music beats by African American people are highly popular all around the world. And many singers adopted those beats on their own. These concerts are held to highlight the originality of their music to celebrate Juneteenth.
Eating red foods
For the African American community, eating red foods is a custom that many follow. Red foods like strawberries, cherries, red wine, barbeque, etc. are very common to be placed on the Juneteenth celebratory dinner table.
Red foods symbolize the strength and courage of the enslaved Black people for years against cruelty and violence.
What is #blacklivesmatter?
In 2020, an innocent black man, George Floyd, was brutally murdered by the police for his racial identity. After the incident, there were protests all around the country with the slogan #blacklivesmatter to demand justice for the murder committed.
Black lives matter has become a common slogan and hashtag on social media around the world that started in the United States. Many black people were targeted in killings because of their racial identity. It began in the US and then spread all around the world mainly in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and New Zealand where black people reside to raise voices against the injustice they face due to their racial identity.
#blacklivesmatter highlights the injustice and brutality against innocent black people. It was widely used when Floyd’s case was reported to the world. Millions of people came out on the streets to protest against the brutality.
Black lives matter is a famous slogan on Juneteenth as well. People make posters with drawings and writings with this phrase to empower black people and bring awareness of racism in society.
George Floyd and Beronna Taylor
The most recent racial crime committed against George Floyd and Beronna Taylor was highlighted on the Juneteenth march in America. Black people raised slogans of equality and justice to bring awareness of the injustice they have to face in their daily lives.
George Floyd was a bouncer who was arrested by police custody. He was brutally murdered by the policeman Derek Chauvin. The last word uttered by George was “I can’t breathe”. This became a slogan to highlight the brutal murder and people went on strikes against the police.
Beronna Taylor was a black medical officer who was shot down by the police in March 2020. The police entered her apartment to search her house for alleged drugs her ex-boyfriend kept, and during the search, she was shot directly by the policeman.
Both of them were murdered by police which caused an uproar of security threats to the African Americans in the United States. An institution that is supposed to protect its citizens became a threat to Black people.
Juneteenth is the remembrance of the brutal murder of George Floyd, Beronna Taylor and so many more.
Is Juneteenth a federal holiday?
Juneteenth has been celebrated as a special day for years but was not defined as a holiday on a national level.
Recently, in June, the newly elected president of America, Joe Biden signed an official legislation bill that declared Juneteenth as the federal holiday. Before this, many big companies like Nike, Uber, etc. gave paid holidays on Juneteenth. Furthermore, it was recognized as a national holiday in 48 states only, but now it has become an official federal holiday.
In his speech regarding Juneteenth, President Biden said “On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice. And, we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility…”
Juneteenth is a national holiday because it holds a lot of importance in the hearts of Americans. This day was usually celebrated by African American communities only for the past 150 years until now when it is declared a holiday on a national level.
Juneteenth is about observing the dark history of America but also hopes for equality in America.
Lessons from Juneteenth
Juneteenth is not just a celebration and remembrance day, but it also has so many lessons that people need to remember as they observe it every year.
Many schools make special lesson plans for the month of June for the students. They are taught about important figures and works of Black people that are part of American history to keep the spirit of Juneteenth alive.
Here are some of the most important lessons from Juneteenth:
Remember the history
There are so many stories that remain untold about slaves and their hardships. It is important to remember black history because it is part of American history. There are so many published biographies, poems, art, and stories that were told by black people during slavery that people should read and learn from.
They express the true heritage of Black people and remind us to be humble and kind. Black History also gives us lessons to progress as a society.
Juneteenth is a reminder of the human spirit during slavery. It gives us the lesson of the strength and willpower of humans to deal with worse situations. It is also about the courage of Black people to stand against injustice and slavery, racial discrimination, and identity threat.
Juneteenth history is filled with stories told by black people of the human spirit. It motivates people to work hard for the sake of equality and peace in the world.
The most important lesson from Juneteenth to learn is to educate people about racism and colorism. There is so much prejudice and hatred against people of color that it exceeds violent acts and slurry comments that hurt people deeply. If people are not educated about this, they cause harm to people around them.
Juneteenth is to educate people that racism is intolerable. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of their color, race, or ethnicity around the world.
Raise your voice against inequality
Juneteenth, in recent years, has turned into an awareness social movement as well. People march while highlighting the inequality black people face on a yearly basis. They put up posters of the injustice Black people face in workplaces, businesses, job positions, and daily life.
Their voices have brought changes in society as companies and the government make efforts to make sure they are treated well.
Juneteenth teaches the lesson to advocate against inequality. To be confident in raising voice against inequality in the society.
Juneteenth teaches us to respect people and their cultures. No one is superior or better than others in terms of race and color. It is important to see people in the same eyes and give them respect.
No one deserves to be treated wrongly and every person has the right to live a life in freedom and liberty.
Now that you have read the article, you know when is Juneteenth celebrated and the importance it holds for the African American people. Juneteenth is not just Black history, in fact, it is part of American history.
Juneteenth is a great moment to celebrate and remember the day of 19th June 1865. The day is commemorated through remembrance of culture and heritage. Juneteenth highlights the rich culture of art, music, and poetry by Black people. If you love the spirit of Juneteenth, do not miss out on the marches and other events that are held on Juneteenth every year.