Freedom Day: June 19th, 1865
I truly count it as a privilege and an honor to be called upon to share briefly about a holiday that is so near and dear to my heart: “Juneteenth”- a celebration by my people within the African American community for the last 156 years! I believe that this is not just a day that African Americans should celebrate, but one that all Americans should take the time to research, reflect upon, and recognize how far we have come in this country, and also how far we still have to go. This event is not only a milestone in Black history, but a milestone in American history just the same. So what exactly is Juneteenth you might ask?
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth (which is a combination of the date of the holiday, combining the words “June” and “nineteenth”), also known as “Freedom Day,” or Americas second “Independence Day,” commemorates the end of slavery in the south. On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told enslaved people that they had been emancipated from slavery! There are many people who believe that the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 ended slavery- But that was not the case fully. Unfortunately, not all states followed the ruling, and continued on even after receiving word of the executive order that was passed. So more than 250,000 African Americans remained in slavery for an additional two years! I can only imagine the joy and relief that they must have felt in their hearts to hear the General state, “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, YOU ARE FREE!” The celebration began on that very day and as Africa-Americans in the South migrated across the country, Juneteenth celebrations began appearing all over different cities.
How to Celebrate
We have discussed briefly the history behind this holiday and now you might be wondering how does one go about celebrating this holiday? Depending upon where you live it could look different from state to state. Movies, Barbecues, Fireworks, as well as the serving of red foods and drinks that symbolize the blood shed of those killed during slavery. It is also celebrated in some areas by having moments of silence at home or sharing the history with someone who might not know or understand what it is all about. Some individuals may hold the belief that Juneteenth is only for the African American community, and as such should only be celebrated by that population of people, but I would beg to differ and encourage everyone to celebrate this momentous day! I believe that there is true value for every American regardless of race, color, or creed to partake in this celebration.
Establishing a Federal Holiday
I have offered you a very brief synopsis of this holiday, and would challenge you to research this great moment in history for yourself! On June 15th, 2021, the Senate unanimously passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday!
There will be several events here in the Spokane area to honor the holiday. I am honored to work for an organization that recognizes this holiday and one that will be represented there as well!
– Johnnie B, CHAS Health Community Health Worker
Juneteenth Celebration & Events
Movie In The Park Featuring “Black Panther”
- Date: Friday, June 18th
- Time: 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
- Location: Underhill Park, 2910 E. Hartson Ave
JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION & VACCINATION CLINIC
- Date: Saturday, June 19th
- Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm (resource fair) 2:00 pm—6:00 pm (music and entertainment)
- Location: MLK Family Outreach Center at East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St.
PRAISE IN THE PARK AND COMMUNITY BOOK DRIVE
- Date: Sunday, June 20th
- Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
- Location: Liberty Park, 502 S. Pittsburg Street
FATHER’S DAY DRIVE UP BRUNCH
- Date: Sunday, June 20th
- Time: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
- Location: Emmanuel Life Center, 631 S. Richard Allen Court