The New Federal Holiday – Juneteenth


If you know the reason for Juneteenth, raise your hand. Unless you come from Texas I would bet most of you, like me, have no clue what Juneteenth was all about. In fact, though I had heard the name, I had never actually learned the reason behind it, until this last weekend. When President Joe Biden signed this day into a federal holiday, I thought I should learn the reason behind this day.

A funny name, Juneteenth is the combination of June and nineteen, referring to June 19, 1865. Yet, the making of this holiday started two years previously in 1863. At this time, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation releasing all slaves and giving them equal citizenship.

Though that happened on January 1, 1863, it took two and a half years to reach Texas. Finally, on June 19, 1865, the army for the United States entered Texas and gave out the proclamation freeing all slaves. Joyously the people celebrated. The next year on the same date, they again celebrated the freedom of the slaves. Eventually, it became a Texas state holiday.

Some states and other countries have adopted this day to celebrate as well. Some call it a second independence day or joyous day. Now in 2021, the whole United States will celebrate this holiday. I wonder what greeting we will use for this day; Happy Juneteenth, or Joyous Juneteenth?

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