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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsJuneteenth: U.S. Marks End of Slavery for African Americans

Juneteenth: U.S. Marks End of Slavery for African Americans

A Juneteenth event in Oregon. Credit: Airickson,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0/Wikipedia

Juneteenth, America’s youngest federal holiday recognized last year by President Joe Biden will be celebrated across the nation on Sunday, June 19th.

Juneteenth came to national prominence in 2020 amid nationwide protests after Minneapolis man George Floyd and Louisville, Kentucky woman Breonna Taylor were killed during encounters with law enforcement. Both Floyd and Taylor were Black Americans.

Their deaths spotlighted ongoing racial inequities in the justice system as well as the legacy of slavery in encounters between Black Americans and the police.

The holiday commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation to free enslaved African Americans in secessionist states on January 1, 1863, but enslaved people in Galveston, Texas would not learn of their freedom until two years later.

On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed the community of Galveston of Lincoln’s proclamation. Though it was issued years prior, enslavers were held responsible for telling the enslaved they were free, and some ignored the directive. Maj. Gen. Gordon demanded Galveston locals comply with the proclamation.

Texas was the last Confederate state where the proclamation was announced and the first to recognize the date of June 19th, or Juneteenth, statewide.

President Biden on Juneteenth

Proclaiming Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday last year, President Biden said that the day “marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound—in my view—profound weight and profound power.”

It is “a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take—what I’ve long called ‘America’s original sin,'” said Biden.

At a White House event, Biden said that “by making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel.”


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