Photo: Maritza Zuluaga

Make Juneteenth a national holiday

Juneteenth is a holiday with no federal recognition that celebrates the abolition of slavery.


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Today is Juneteenth. One-hundred and fifty-five years since the abolition of slavery. A declared holiday in Texas. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter revolution, it is especially important to remember this day and the people who set forth a new America.

The History:

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order signed by President Abraham Lincoln to free all the slaves issued on January 1, 1863during the Civil War, which took place from 1861-1865. 

However, the southern states did not follow the order freeing people until over two years later.

On June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended, General Gordon Granger signed an executive order to free all slaves. That day, federal troops arrived in Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were free. This marked what would be the most important day for emancipation from slavery in the United States: Juneteenth.

Emancipation Day Celebration band, June 19, 1900Stephenson, Mrs. Charles (Grace Murray) / Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Why the importance?

Though a celebration of freedom, this is also a day in history that reminds us how dark America was, and continues to be today. Juneteenth is a reflection of how far society has come over decades, but also serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done in regards to pursuing equality and justice for all.


HAPPY JUNETEENTH : Why we (Black Americans) celebrate Juneteenth? On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation. Sadly, it took more than two years for that news to reach enslaved Africans Americans in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. We celebrate June 19th as Juneteenth also known as Freedom Day because on that day all Black Americans became free! : Thankful to be Black and thankful for my Ancestors who came before me : #amplifymelanatedvoices : : : . . . . . . . . . . . . #juneteenth #amplifyblackvoices #blacklivesmatter #blackartists #blackart #blackcreatives #blackcreators #blackculture #blackwomen #blackgirlmagic #blackgirls #blackjoy #blackhistory #blackpeople #blacklove #fashionillustration #digitalillustration #digitalillustrator #digitalart #naturalhair #womenofillustration #womenofcreation #juneteenthcelebration #blackgirlart #melanin #blackowned #etsy #blackwomenmatter #brownskingirls

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The Present:

Demonstrations throughout the world following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police ignited on May 25, and have not subsided. Instead, the protests have gained more traction, forcing society to listen to the long unheard cries of citizens begging for equality 155 years later.

Juneteenth was declared a Texas state holiday in 1980. The call to make Juneteenth a national federal holiday has existed through campaigns for more than two decades now. All but four states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Montana, have recognized June 19.
Jamaal Bowman, a candidate running for  representative of New York’s 16th district in Congress, tweeted last week:

As time is ever so pressing, many corporations this week were quick to recognize this holiday to staff and announce it to be on the right side of history. 

“This year, as we work together as a family and in our communities to combat the racial injustices that remain deeply rooted into the fabric of our society, the NFL will observe Juneteenth on Friday as a recognized holiday and our league offices will be closed,” wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an email released by NPR

Similar companies like Nike and Twitter also announced from now on it would be a paid holiday. 

Our very own city of Philadelphia, where one of the country’s largest celebrations for this holiday takes place, are now giving their city employees Juneteenth as a paid holiday. 

Where do we go from here?

Y’all tired? I’m Black.

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Today is a day to celebrate Black excellence. 

To celebrate the joys, talent, and culture of the black community. 

Support black owned businesses. Sign those petitions. Donate to the organizations who are out in the streets asking for equality.

Watch the documentaries and shows on Netflix that were compiled to educate yourselves and take the necessary steps to real change.

Lastly, honor them not only today, but always.

Happy Juneteenth!


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