Keys to understanding what Juneteenth is and why this year will be especially important

Keys To Understanding What Juneteenth Is And Why This Year Will Be Especially Important

On Juneteenth 2020, the celebration of the emancipation of the African American community will probably be one of the most important since its birth in 1866 – one year after the effective end of slavery – as it connects with the growing wave of protests and outrage over police violence against African Americans in the country.

Cities like Washington D.C., New York or Detroit, among many others, will host this Friday celebrations that in some cases will last for a whole week.

And it is that the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer on May 25, as well as that of so many other African-Americans, seems to have given a great boost to this holiday originated in Texas, the last state to eliminate slavery effective two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) so ordered.


For what reason is Juneteenth celebrated?

This date commemorates June 19, 1865, the day in which General Gordon Granger entered Galveston (Texas), one of the last regions where slavery was still practiced despite its abolition in 1963, and announced the end of the War. Civil and the prohibition to carry out this inhumane practice.

A year later, African-Americans in Texas began celebrating that day under the name Juneteenth – a word game with the month of June and the pronunciation of 19 in English – with community events such as parades, mass prayers, readings, and musical performances. .


When African Americans from Texas migrated across the country, they carried this tradition with them, and over time, each community created its own traditions, such as wearing fancy clothes, gathering around a barbecue, or holding parades.

Since then this day is also known as Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day or Juneteenth Independence Day.

Decline and rebirth of the party

With the arrival of the 20th century, this day was engulfed by the recently instituted Independence Day – July 4. Furthermore, the Great Depression (1929-1939) gave an almost final thrust to this party, relegating it to almost complete oblivion.

However, the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s fueled a revival of Juneteenth, culminating in the 1968 Poor People’s March in Washington, DC, led by the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and from which they were born. some of the most important current celebrations, such as those in Milwakee or Minneapolis.

Juneteenth today

This day is officially recognized as a holiday in the District of Columbia and in all states except North Dakota, South Dakota, and Hawaii.

The first state to declare Juneteenth as an official holiday was precisely Texas in 1980, and since then the rest have followed, although only three (Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Florida) did so before the start of the 21st century. More recently, the state of New York declared the holiday for public employees.

June 19 is not a national holiday despite calls from the past decades for it to be so by some lawmakers, such as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson at the turn of the century or more recently by Senators Bill Nelson and Cory Booker.

In addition, there has been a lot of popular pressure for Juneteenth to become a national holiday, proof of this is the success of the petition by the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation on, which had been signed by more than 300,000 people as of June 18. of June.

A Juneteenth with a proper name: George Floyd

This year, the Juneteenth mobilizations are expected to become especially relevant in the wake of protests against police violence stemming from the death of African-American George Floyd last May when he was detained.

President Donald Trump had a meeting in Tulsa (Oklahoma) scheduled for this Friday, but finally his team decided to postpone it until Saturday after critical voices accused him of sending a wink to white supremacists and generating tension by scheduling it the same day Juneteennth, which is possibly the most massive in recent years.



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