What’s Juneteenth? Everything that you need to know about this holiday

Everyone loves to enjoy the weekend and this Saturday will add to the good feeling. Saturday will be Juneteenth and another celebration to add to the calendar. You might have heard this holiday spoken in conservation or seen it on the calendar but not know what it is. Juneteenth isn’t just a random date, but a day filled with great significance and historical value. This holiday is extremely important because it highlights an iconic moment in African-American history and culture. 

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated by African-Americans all over the United States. Texas was the first state to recognize this holiday in 1980 and the only states that don’t are North Dakota, South Dakota and Hawaii. However, Juneteenth’s origins are much older than that. 

Juneteenth first came to be on June 19 of 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was known to have freed the slaves. Since then, many have considered the date to be an unofficial holiday until Texas declared it a holiday in 1980. The special date gets its name by combining the words “June” and “nineteen” and the holiday is always celebrated on the 19th.

The holiday has many different nicknames like Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day. People are also known to celebrate it with the colors black, green, yellow and maroon. 

The history of Juneteenth and how it’s celebrated is a long one but should be remembered every year. Even though Juneteenth marked the end of slavery, African-Americans were not treated as equals or with respect for a very long time. It wasn’t until almost 100 years later that the Civil Rights Act was passed and prohibited discrimination based on race. 

Despite its popularity, Juneteenth is still not considered a national holiday. Many community groups dislike this decision and with good reason. This past year, the public and media have seen many instances of police brutality and racially motivated crimes. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey and Elijah McClain have broken the hearts of many Americans.

Their deaths raised tension between people and police overtime. Many have grown tired of seeing innocent men and women racially profiled or attacked because of the color of their skin. This caused the reassurance of the Black Lives Matter movement which started in 2013. Protests were held all over the country in the hopes of bringing about change.

 For most communities, change was not found and tensions continue to rise. Some people say that the country is in a vulnerable state and fighting the pandemic and racial injustices. However, Juneteenth can provide an opportunity for all Americans to heal from these stressful situations. It can give everyone a bit of happiness during uncertain times and remind activists of the work they set out to do. 

Image courtesy of Chicago Tribune

What Juneteenth symbolizes to many people is a victory and a chance to celebrate their culture and community. Many celebrate the holiday with parades, cookouts and special events. Due to the pandemic, Juneteenth will look very different this year, but that will not stop people from coming together and celebrating. 

There will be events all over the country including around the neighborhood. In Boca Raton, events like speeches, parades, and festivals will be held throughout the day on Saturdays. Celebrations around the city start as early as 9 a.m. and are filled with musical performances, a variety of food and many activities. 

Juneteenth might seem like a small holiday but it is much more than that. It is a holiday that highlights some of our country’s best and worst moments. It should be celebrated and raise awareness on the topics of racial injustice around the community and country. Happy Juneteenth!

About the Author

- Lauren is a junior at Nova Southeastern University who is studying Communications, Creative Writing, and Strategic Communications. In her free time, she loves to go to the beach and writing what's on her mind.

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