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A Brief History Behind Juneteenth And Its Importance

By Jennifer Moreno

Juneteenth Importance

So, you wanna learn more about Juneteenth? These are the details behind this important date!

Those who were enslaved in Galveston, Texas, told they were free back on June 19, 1865. A century and a half later, people across the U.S. celebrate this occasion. Juneteenth is the oldest annual holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. This is a brief guide about all the things you should know about this commemoration.

Juneteenth’s History

Back in 1863, Abraham Lincon issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War, which declared that more than 3 million enslaved people living in the Confederate states were free. Texas, the furthest west territory, was under Confederate control, so enslaved people there did not receive emancipation until the end of the war nearly two years later.

Emancipation Proclamation

Celebrations

The first celebrations date back to 1866, involving a church-centered community gathering in Texas. Festivities involved prayers, songs, and celebrants wearing new clothes as a sign of their newfound freedom. These celebrations grew in popularity over the years and spread across the South. Nowadays these traditions include prayers, religious services, speeches, family gatherings, educational events, picnics, and festivals with food, and music. 

This day is also celebrated outside the U.S., organizations in numerous countries use this day as a recognition of the end of slavery, and celebrate the culture and achievements of all the Black community.

Juneteenth Celebration

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Why is Juneteenth so important?

Juneteenth began to gain importance in 1968, when Martin Luther King led the Poor People’s Campaign and held a Juneteenth Solidarity Day. Marches and rallies again systemic racism and police brutality have continued during the years, and it has put this commemoration and the Black Lives Matter movement in the spotlight. Now President Biden signed The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act bill, making this important date an official federal holiday.

Juneteenth's importance

Juneteenth’s Flag

The Juneteenth flag represents the end of slavery in the U.S. and it’s filled with different meanings.

  • The star: this has a dual meaning, representing Texas and the freedom of the Black community in all 50 states.
  • The burst: the outline around the star is inspired by a nova (new star). This represents a new beginning.
  • The arc: this curve represents the new horizon: the opportunities and promises that lay ahead.
  • The colors: red, white, and blue represent the American flag as a reminder that the slaves, and descendants were, and are Americans.

Juneteenth Flag

Also, see: 10 LGBTQIA+ Pride Flags And Their Meanings

Tags: history