Juneteenth (aka Freedom Day) is an American holiday marking the end of slavery. But this year it’s even more pertinent. Here’s why. By Marta Portocarrero.
Sylvia Lambe, Senior Consultant and Executive Producer of the Juneteenth Festival brings us the lowdown from Colorado:
The holiday’s name is a combination of “June” and “19”. It is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day”, “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day”.
To celebrate it, families usually gather around food in their backyards. In bigger cities, such as Atlanta and Washington hold larger events like parades and festivals.
The virtual festival will be held on the 18th of June with musical performances, live podcasts, a virtual cypher, virtual dance competition, comedy and more. You can check more details here.
Due to the Black Lives Matter protests across the US, some things have changed:
✊🏾 In Minneapolis, where George Floyd died, officials banned the use of chokeholds and strangleholds by police, and said officers must intervene and report any use of unauthorized force.
✊🏾 Democrats in Congress unveiled sweeping legislation targeting misconduct and racial discrimination by the police.
✊🏾 Companies in the US have voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and have either suspended or fired employees who made racist remarks after Floyd’s death.
Some compare the current unrest with the end of the Civil War, which can lead to a “rupture” in history.
“I think Juneteenth feels a little different now. It’s an opportunity for folks to kind catch their breath about what has been this incredible pace of change and shifting that we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks.”
A petition has been set up to make Juneteenth a national holiday. You can sign it here.
It is important to note that many Black Americans remained subjected to the realities of slavery in America even long after the 19th of June of 1865. Those informed by Granger were far from the last to be freed in the US.
Even after the ratification of the 13th amendment on the 18th of December of 1865, Black Americans faced decades of crude labor conditions amounting to involuntary servitude, with leaving former plantations being as risky as escaping slavery itself.
For many, especially the descendants of enslaved African Americans in rural Texas, Juneteenth remains a day of mourning for those freedom never reached.