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Why Juneteenth is Essential

Written By: Donovyn Bookman

June 19, 2021

Originating in Galveston, Texas, this holiday is known as Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation day. Celebrating the release of those who the U.S had enslaved. However, I feel people don't understand what this holiday is and has done. Therefore I took it upon myself to supply the people with a quick background on why this holiday is so essential to my brothers and sisters/culture altogether.

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. By signing this proclamation, he outlawed slavery (made it illegal) and emphasized that all slave states that were in rebellion would be free. At the time, the proclamation only applied to places under confederate control and not to slave-holding border states/rebel areas already under union control. The enforcement of the law relied heavily on the advancement of the Northern troops. As they tore through states, one by one, many slaves took it upon themselves to flee behind union lines for the safety of themselves and their families.

However, in Texas, slavery still had a hold on its people as the state experienced no large-scale fighting or a significant presence of Union troops. As a result, many enslavers from outside the Lone Star State moved there, as they viewed it as a safe haven for slavery.

On June 19, 1865, months after the Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse and two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had initially been signed. General Order No 3. by Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas. He stated, "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the U.S., all slaves are free." After receiving this life-changing news, a celebration broke out amongst the newly freed blacks, and in return, Juneteenth was born.

The U.S. officially outlawed slavery in America that December, but that still didn't stop the cruelty and harassment black people received just because of how they looked on the outside. Some generally saw the new form of suppression as lynchings, and violent police beatings left many blacks in conditions that no one should endure throughout their lifetime.

In 1979 Texas was the first to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. In today's world, it is on the brink of becoming a national holiday celebrated by many worldwide. The celebration of this day consists of festivals, family barbecues, and enjoying red foods/drinks such as watermelon, red velvet cake, and strawberry pie to signify the bloodshed from my people over the years.

As time continues to change, we as black people continue to progress every decade by becoming more educated and wealthy as the decades go by. Thanks to leaders such as the great Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Huey P. Newton for the blueprint they mapped out, we continue to keep them alive every day just by continuing to beat the odds that have formed against us each and every day.

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