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Juneteenth Celebrates History, Black Culture And Freedom

Post by Shirley Jackson from Alabama NewsCenter

Juneteenth is the oldest known African American celebration of emancipation in the nation. It celebrates freedom and the official end of slavery. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves from Confederate states. Two years passed before Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 announcing to more than a quarter-million enslaved men and women that slavery had been abolished.

The holiday is called “Juneteenth” because it is a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth” with the date it falls upon. Some of the most common names for the holiday are Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day.

Alabama became the 40th state to recognize Juneteenth through the passage of legislation sponsored by state Sen. Hank Sanders in 2012. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. In 1979, the bill passed the Texas Legislature and on Jan. 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official holiday. To date, 47 states recognize the day as a state holiday.

On Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth an official federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on June 19. (Getty Images)

The Juneteenth flag was created by Ben Haith, the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation. Later, design changes were made to the original version by Lisa Jeanne Graf. The Juneteenth flag colors are red, white and blue. The flag reflects new freedom, a new people and a new star. The star in the middle pays homage to Texas. Most people celebrate with the red, green and black Pan-African flag created in 1920 by Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey.

As Juneteenth marks the independence of Black Americans, it is an opportunity to educate about, reflect on and celebrate the historical significance of the emancipation movement.

Earlier commemorations featured prayer, songs, parades, rodeos, street fairs and other activities.

Other countries mark the holiday by celebrating the culture and achievements of Black Americans.

Americans will gather June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery through music, dance, food and fellowship.

RELATED: Can’t Miss Alabama honors Juneteenth, Father’s Day and more

Family-friendly Juneteenth celebration ideas include:

  • Books: Expand your viewpoint at your local library with books that describe the origins of Juneteenth.
  • Films: Streaming services offer a variety of documentaries and movies.
  • Family: Celebrate with traditional Juneteenth food at a family reunion, backyard cookout or picnic.
  • Social media: Share ideas, recipes and what you are learning.
  • Art shows: Visit your local museum for Black art and cultural events.
  • Community: Attend a festival, church event, lecture or exhibition.
  • Pageant: Find a Miss Juneteenth contest near you.
  • KidsFest: Have a Juneteenth theme party for children of all ages.

To learn more about Juneteenth, visit the Smithsonian National Museum. Click to listen as a family to this historic speech on YouTube.

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