By Katilyn Thomas
On June 24th, President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, enshrining June 19 as the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. “All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” Mr. Biden said at a ceremony at the White House. Our staff are encouraged to use this day to reflect, listen, learn and engage in critical conversations about racial injustice and systemic inequality.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, a Union General rode into Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War had ended, and slaves had been freed. Though the Emancipation Proclamation became law in January 1863, it could not be enforced in places still under confederate control. Thus it took over 2 years for approximately 250,000 Texan slaves to learn their freedom had been secured by the government. WIN recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday last year in honor of the protests, marches and rallies for George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Tamir Rice and countless Black women and men who have died as a result of systemic racism and police brutality. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Why is it important?
Juneteenth marks a date of major significance in American history and shows us that freedom and racial equality have always been a hard-fought battle for black Americans – a battle that continues to this day.
How should we celebrate it?
For some, it’s celebrating with fireworks, gathering with friends and family at a cookout, and sipping on red drinks, a tradition that symbolizes perseverance and honors the blood that was shed of African-Americans. For others, it’s shopping at black-owned businesses, sharing history with friends and family, or attending parades.