June 19th, the day widely referred to as Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Second Independence Day, is a day for Americans to celebrate and commemorate the freedom of enslaved African Americans. The National Museum of African American History and Culture cites Juneteenth as “marking our country’s second Independence Day,” and that “the historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times.” An explanation from Juneteenth World Wide Celebration explains that “Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.”
On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation announced “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas “are, and henceforward shall be free.” However, in regions that were still under Confederate control, the Emancipation Proclamation was not enacted and resulted in enslaved people not being freed until much later. The National Museum of African American History and Culture explains that in “the westernmost Confederate state of Texas…Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree,” and “this day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.”
Juneteenth World Wide Celebration describes that while today’s Juneteenth “takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.”
Press Play on History: Juneteenth Connect songs to themes of the historical experience of African Americans and Juneteenth and create a playlist through this Learning Lab activity. https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/press-play-on-history-juneteenth/sq7aFVyT4f6ohjEe
On NPR: Poet Amanda Gorman celebrates the gift of Blackness for Juneteenth https://www.npr.org/2022/06/17/1105790840/poet-amanda-gorman-reflects-on-what-lies-beneath-the-celebrations-of-juneteenth
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