We Celebrants are eager to mark any occasion. Our datebooks are filled with not only personal celebrations and rites of passages but holidays of every sort. Religious & seasonal holidays and historic & cultural celebrations can be found during any given week, if one searches expansively. The, of course, there are what I consider silly “holidays” which seem to be driven by commercial ventures (National Donut Day, for example). While I’d like to think I have an expansive appreciation of holidays of all sorts, I am still gathering knowledge. This year, I’ve learned a bit about a very important—but widely overlooked—day of commemoration, Juneteenth (June 19).
If memory serves me, I first learned about this day of remembrance from my wise former colleague, the late Rashida Valvassori. It is also known as “Emancipation Day” or Black Independence Day. It was the day that the last slaves were given their freedom after the Civil War. It is noted that President Abraham Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. But it took a full three years before the last slaves were freed. It was on June 19, three years later, that General Granger arrived in Galveston to issue Order No. 3, officially freeing those last slaves.
For years after 1865, emancipated slaves would travel to Galveston to honor the day. And, currently Texas and Oklahoma are the only states with legal Juneteenth holidays—although I remember no such celebrations growing up in the Sooner State, there are 200+ cities in America that host days of jubilation. Attending one of these Juneteenth celebrations will now be added to my personal bucket list!
To learn more visit the Juneteenth National Celebration website.