Juneteenth is an amalgamation of two words- ‘June’ and ‘Nineteenth’. It is popularly known as Freedom Day among the enslaved African Americans. Every year on June 19 this day is celebrated as the freedom of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate state of America.
In order to commemorate the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the US state of Texas, a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states. On this day, the Afro-American community in the United States participates in the public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, Singing traditional songs such as ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’
Also, reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou also takes place in the public forum. This day is considered as one of the most important days, people from the entire US celebrate this day with activities like rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.
Historic Significance of the day
The formal inauguration of freedom from the slavery of the African American community began after the former president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, effective from January 1, 1863. Following thus an order was passed which stated all enslaved persons in the Confederate state of America in rebellion and not in unions hand were to be freed.
Earlier the law was excluded for the states, later as the Border States which were the four slaves states not n rebellion during the American Civil War. The states were Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri. At the time this law was not applicable to several countries of Virginia.
However the slavery in Texas of Afro- American was still spreading at that time as it was isolated. Slaveholders migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting and along with them, they brought slaves. The practice gained momentum to an extent by 1865 that there were an estimated 2,50,000 enslaved people in Texas.
In an actual sense, it took years for the African American community to get freedom for slavery, they have been celebrating Juneteenth in Texas and other parts of the United States since 1886.
Juneteenth is also referred to as the traditional end of slavery in Texas, but it was given legal status in a series of Texas Supreme Court decision between 1868 and 1874. With time passing by and racial discrimination spreading like wildfire, fight for right gained pace. Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative AI Edwards in 1980.
On this day, the government offices do not close in Texas but the agencies may operate with reduced staff. By 2014, 43 of the 40 US states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. Additionally, Apple added Juneteenth to its calendars in iOS under official US holidays on 2018.