Today is Juneteenth also called Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day.
Juneteenth for celebrating the emancipation of Black people who had been enslaved in the United States. And it is for reminding ourselves of the oppression and injustice that still fills many corners of our social space.
We stand in solidarity with the Black community. Inequality is not okay. And we can never truly celebrate the liberation of Black people while holding the knowledge that their freedom still needs to be fought for today.
Today is their day. Tomorrow is too. And yesterday, we should have already started listening.
Deneshia Hearon, Chair of Black Faculty & Staff Affinity Group (BFSA) at CU Denver
The History of Juneteenth
1 January 1863
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared all enslaved people in Confederate States as free.
However, not all enslaved individuals would be free under the proclamation as it did not apply to slave-holding border states and rebel areas already under Union control. Plus, the proclamation only really took effect when the Union Army was there to enforce it allowing slave owners and the area governments to continue as they were.
19 June 1865
Texas, being the most western and remote Confederate state, was the last to be liberated.
The Union Army finally reached Galveston Bay and announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day was then named "Juneteenth".
6 December 1865
The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified to abolish slavery throughout the entire country.
In the following year, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas on 19 June. The original observances included prayer meetings with celebrants donning new clothes as a representation of their newfound freedom.
Observation of the holiday then started to spread and within a few years, other states began celebrating this momentous day.
The U.S. Senate approved a bill to recognise Juneteenth as a legal public holiday; signifying to many, a national recognition of the racial injustice that was too long swept under the rug of America’s history.
Black Lives Matter. But for centuries, they have had their rights forcefully stripped from them and they still continue to face prejudice and violence today.
While most of us stand in solidarity against overt acts of oppression, racial discrimination is often expressed in very covert ways (and behind closed doors) that are far more difficult to catch.
This is why we need to fight for change.
There are generations of damage we need to mend and we can start in small but significant ways by:
- Educating ourselves on racial issues and their history
- Diversify the media sources we consume to reduce racial bias
- Reflecting on our words and actions that may play into negative stereotypes
- Speaking up against racism especially within our private circles
- Listening and acknowledge the experience of the Black people
There are also actions we can take to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black community at large:
- Sign petitions, join protests and donate to causes: BLACK LIVES MATTER
- Support criminal justice reforms: THE INNOCENCE PROJECT
- Stay updated and engaged on social: @blklivesmatter
As we celebrate today as Ask & Embla, we remember that light is beyond melanin and alternative streams should be applauded in every vein. We recognise that there is more that we can do to represent the Black community and we promise to make this space safe and welcoming for all.
Happy Juneteenth from the Ask & Embla Family 🖤
Sources we want to acknowledge:
HISTORY (A&E Networks)
National Museum of African American History & Culture