July 14, 2024

INTELLECTUAL INK

A MAGAZINE FOR AVID READERS AND PROLIFIC WRITERS

Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom with Food, Family, and Fun!

4 min read

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks a significant event in American history. Celebrated annually on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This day is not just a historical milestone but a symbol of resilience, hope, and the ongoing struggle for equality. In this blog, we will explore the rich history of Juneteenth and its importance in today’s society.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. The name “Juneteenth” is a blend of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” reflecting the date of the celebration. This day marks the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, which was the last Confederate state to hold enslaved people following the end of the Civil War.

The roots of Juneteenth trace back to June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He brought with him General Order No. 3, which declared the freedom of all enslaved people in Texas. This announcement came a full two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had officially outlawed slavery in the Confederate States as of January 1, 1863

The delay in the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas can be attributed to several factors. Communication was slow and unreliable in the 19th century, and Texas, being a remote and sparsely populated state, was particularly isolated. Additionally, the Civil War had left the southern states in disarray, and many slaveholders deliberately withheld information about the proclamation from enslaved people to maintain their labor force.

The first Juneteenth celebrations began in 1866. Freedmen in Texas organized festivities that included music, dancing, and feasting. These early celebrations were a way for the African American community to come together, honor their heritage, and educate their children about the significance of freedom. Over the years, the celebrations spread to other states, becoming a nationwide tradition.

Opal Lee is known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” due to her tireless efforts to get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday in the United States. In 2016, at the age of 89, Lee embarked on a symbolic walk from her Texas home to Washington D.C., walking 2.5 miles each day to represent the two-and-a-half years it took for news of emancipation to reach Texas. This act garnered national attention for her cause. Lee’s determination and activism brought Juneteenth to the forefront of national conversation. She collected over a million signatures on a petition urging Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Her relentless work played a pivotal role in achieving her goal. In 2021, Juneteenth was finally declared a national holiday, a testament to Lee’s dedication.

While Juneteenth is definitely a day for delicious BBQ and family gatherings, it’s also a time to reflect on the ongoing fight for equality. We celebrate the progress made, but we also acknowledge the work that remains.

How YOU Can Celebrate Juneteenth!

Ready to join the Juneteenth fun? Here are a few ideas:

  • Become a History Buff: Dig into the history of Juneteenth and slavery in America. Read books, watch documentaries, or visit your local museum. Knowledge is power!
  • Support Black-Owned Businesses: Juneteenth is a great time to celebrate Black excellence! Find Black-owned restaurants, shops, and artists in your community and show them some love.
  • Get Grooving! Juneteenth celebrations are all about music and dance. Bust a move at a local Juneteenth event or put together your own playlist for a backyard bash.
  • Have Meaningful Conversations: Juneteenth is a chance to talk about race, equality, and the road ahead. Chat with friends and family about what Juneteenth means to you.

Juneteenth: A Day of Celebration and Progress

Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of the enduring human spirit. It’s a day to celebrate freedom, honor the past, and work towards a brighter future. So, this Juneteenth, let’s raise a glass (of sweet tea, lemonade, or whatever your favorite beverage is) to freedom, justice, and the delicious food that brings us all together!

1. Juneteenth: A Novel” by Ralph Ellison

   – This posthumously published novel by the author of “Invisible Man” delves into themes of race and identity, centered around the significance of Juneteenth.

2. On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed

   – A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian provides a personal and historical account of the origins and significance of Juneteenth in Texas and beyond.

3. Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper

   – This children’s book tells the story of a young girl named Mazie who learns about the history and importance of Juneteenth from her father.

4. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

   – A beautifully illustrated picture book that captures the emotions of the first Juneteenth through the eyes of a young girl.

5. Juneteenth: A Children’s Story” by Opal Lee, illustrated by Peter Viska

   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *