This year marks the first year Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal holiday. On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, calling it “one of the greatest honors.” The holiday has been celebrated for over a century, and before this law came into effect, companies such as Nike, Adidas and Citigroup made it a paid holiday for their employees. Not sure what Juneteenth is? We’ve got you covered.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865. Many people think President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation gave freedom to all slaves, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The proclamation only applied to states, such as Texas, that were in rebellion against the federal government. But some historians believe slave owners withheld the message in hopes of keeping slaves for additional harvest seasons. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and announced the end of the Civil War and slavery, which is how many slaves learned about their freedom. Once slaves heard the news that Granger announced, annual celebrations began the following year.
Celebrations included rodeos, live performances, parades, cookouts and more. By 1872, the Black community was able to pool their money together and purchase a park in Houston known as Emancipation Park. This park became the home of Juneteenth celebrations.
Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980. Since then, Juneteenth’s recognition slowly extended to other states. Hawaii became the latest state to recognize it, making it the 49th state to do so. This holiday has been celebrated for over 150 years, and the celebrations are becoming larger. It’s safe to say the traditions never stopped. If you’re looking for a Juneteenth event in your neighborhood, check out this list.
Celebrate by helping Black entrepreneurs fund their businesses. Learn more here.