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The History Of Juneteenth

As part of our commitment to being an active ally for marginalized communities, we are beginning an annual tradition of donating to the Equal Justice Initiative and The NAACP on Juneteenth.

Unfamiliar with Juneteenth? Continue reading to learn more about the deep significance of this holiday. 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the oldest celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Where did it start?

While it originated in Galveston, Texas in 1865, the holiday has now become federally recognized.  

What is the significance of the date June 19th?

From “On June 19th the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.”

Why isn’t Juneteenth more widely known?

From “The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity.”

Want to learn more? 

Why celebrating Juneteenth is more important now than ever” – by P.R. Lockhart

What Is Juneteenth?” – by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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