The Meaning of Juneteenth
The Fourth of July is the day for celebrating independence and freedom in the United States, but Juneteenth is the holiday when African Americans celebrate freedom. The name “Juneteenth” is a combination of the date “June nineteenth.” That was the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas first learned that they were free. Ever since that day, Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans all over the United States.
Juneteenth celebrates a real event in history. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation and freed slaves in the confederate states but he couldn’t make sure everybody followed it until after the civil war. The war finally ended in April, 1865. Then troops went into the south to make sure that all slaves heard about their new freedom but the troops didn’t reach Texas until June 19 and General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, and read aloud from General Order 3. It said that the war was over and the slaves were free. They celebrated (Otfinoski 10).
After the civil war, the United States goverment tried to help former slaves. Some had no jobs and no place to live, the government built schools and helped them get jobs. But there some problems. Many white southerners were unhappy about losing their slaves and did not like to see them celebrating. They formed groups that tried to keep African Americans from enjoying their freedom.
The former slaves worked to make sure they’d get to celebrate Juneteenth. In Galveston, Texas some churches raised money to buy land for the Juneteenth celebrations. It is called Emancipation Park and Juneteenth is still celebrated there every year (Dingus).
Since then, African Americans all around the country celebrate Juneteenth. They have barbeques and speeches are made. Back in the beginning former slaves threw rags into the rivers and streams. The rags represented the old, worn out clothes that they had to wear when they were slaves. Juneteenth is so popular now that it is a holiday in seven states and other states want to make it a holiday (Glanton).
In 2002 many people went to a rally in Washington D.C. to make Juneteenth a national holiday but not everybody got behind that idea. Some people think that remembering slavery is a negative thing. They don’t want a holiday that celebrates that their ancestor use to be slaves. Others think they are totaly American and are happy to celebrate independence with everybody else on July 4. Other people say that they have been celebrating the holiday on their own for so long they don’t need the goverment to make it a national holiday.
Juneteenth is a holiday with an interesting history, it started in Texas right after the civil war, but now people all over the country celebrate it. Many states are trying to make it a legal holiday. In many communities, the whole community takes part, blacks and whites and everybody else.
Austin, John Juneteenth, Its Beginnings in Texas, Now Goes Nationwide. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 18 June 2017
Otfinoski, Steven The Story of Juneteenth. North Mankato, Capstone Press, 2015
Dingus, Anne. Independence Day. Texas Monthly June 2017: 64
Glanton, Dahleen Juneteenth Celebrations Spread Across U.S. Chicago Tribune 18 June 2017
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Based on a work at k12.thoughtfullearning.com/assessmentmodels/meaning-juneteenth.