Original post on @saic.maffairs forthcoming.
June 19th, celebrated as Juneteenth, recognizes the historic moment in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, TX were informed of their freedom from slavery. Also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Liberty Day, news of this declaration came more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed which ended the institution of slavery in ceded states. Celebrations of this newfound ‘freedom’ spread across the country, and still continues today. 1, 2
Every year, families and friends join together for food, music, and storytelling. Some cities even hold larger events such as parades and festivals. Increased awareness has inspired widespread action with companies recently declaring June 19 a company holiday. 3 Despite its significance, Juneteenth is not taught in most schools, and it’s not considered a Federal holiday! Out of 50 states in America, 48 states (+ Washington D.C.) recognize June 19 as a state holiday, which is testament to the tense systematic relationship between the United States and White Supremacy. 4, 5, 6 The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, a Mississippi-based organization, has worked for years to get Juneteenth recognized/observed as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth functions as an indication of where we stand in our fight against racism: how freedom was and still is delayed, how progress is not linear, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. By the time the news was delivered to Texans, it was already 2.5 years delayed. Today, with the communication abilities we have, we can spread news faster and farther. We can determine: Is freedom inevitable? Then let’s not delay it..
“There’s a paradox inherent in the fact that emancipation is celebrated primarily among African-Americans, and that the celebration is rooted in a perception of slavery as something that happened to Black people, rather than something that the country committed. The paradox rests on the presumption that the arrival of freedom should be greeted with gratitude, instead of with self-reflection about what allowed it to be deprived in the first place.” - Jelani Cobb