| By Gale Staff |
Juneteenth is a day of celebration and communing with family and friends, commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States, which occurred on June 19, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, it wasn’t implemented in Texas until Union soldiers and Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to enforce the law, over two years later.
It is a day marked across the country with picnics, family gatherings, parades, and oftentimes community awards. Juneteenth celebrates freedom and resilience, and it is symbolic of what needs to change and what needs to persist – ending the systemic marginalization of people of color, and the continuing ability of the American people to enact this change.
As Juneteenth is celebrated this year, we recognize the current nation-wide civil unrest as the outpouring of our intolerance for the ill effects and gross inequities of our systems. The demonstrations send a clear message that many more changes are needed.
As Henry Louis Gates, Jr., wrote in What is Juneteenth?:
By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched—reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth—we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
My hope this Juneteenth is that we never forget it.
Excerpt from What Is Juneteenth?
by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. | Originally posted on The Root
Our history provides key lessons in addressing the challenges our country faces today. Here are some ebooks that provide those lessons, histories, and current topics:
African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations: The History, Customs, and Symbols Associated with Both Traditional and Contemporary Religious and Secular Events Observed by Americans of African Descent
If you are interested in a work of fiction on the topic: Novels for Students, Volume 21, contains coverage of Ralph Ellison’s novel, Juneteenth.