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US Juneteenth celebrations arrive amid culture war on race theory, voting, police reform

03:20  15 june  2021
03:20  15 june  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Juneteenth and 2021 celebrations: What to know about the holiday

  Juneteenth and 2021 celebrations: What to know about the holiday Juneteenth, an annual holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, will be celebrated in person this year.While Juneteenth celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, which only freed slaves in the South, the 13th Amendment is what officially ended slavery in the U.S.

Juneteenth celebrations often include lectures and exhibitions on African-American culture .[88] The modern holiday places much emphasis upon teaching about African-American heritage. Karen M. Thomas wrote in Emerge that "community leaders have latched on to [ Juneteenth ] to help instill a sense of heritage and pride in black youth." "Galveston County Juneteenth events give voice to history, even amid pandemic".

Juneteenth , the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, will be celebrated by Black Americans this Friday amid a national reckoning on race prompted by the police killing of George Floyd and the sweeping demonstrations that followed. Gordon Granger arrived with Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, and announced to enslaved Africans Americans that the Civil War had ended and they were free — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

In the wake of 2020's racial reckoning over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the celebration of Juneteenth spread outside the African American community.

a sign in front of a flag: The City of Cincinnati, for the first time in its history, raised the Juneteenth Flag, Friday, June 19, 2020, at City Hall in Cincinnati. Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. (Via OlyDrop) © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer The City of Cincinnati, for the first time in its history, raised the Juneteenth Flag, Friday, June 19, 2020, at City Hall in Cincinnati. Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. (Via OlyDrop)

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, commemorates June 19, 1865 — the date when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, informing the Galveston, Texas, community that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved African Americans in rebel states. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.

How an annual pageant became a beloved Juneteenth celebration in Texas and beyond

  How an annual pageant became a beloved Juneteenth celebration in Texas and beyond For its participants, Miss Juneteenth is more than a beauty pageant. It's a celebration of joy, a remembrance of pain and an honoring of Black girlhood.“I saw my friends posting about it on Snapchat in 10th grade saying ‘Happy Juneteenth!’” Maku said. “That’s how I found out it was even a thing. Then I started doing my research.

Celebration of Juneteenth migrated with African-Americans travelling north and west out of southern states. It is often commemorated with potlucks and festivals in memory of the family separations suffered during slavery, according to Rhae Lynn Barnes, a professor of American Public anger at racial inequality has put pressure on corporate America to examine its policies on race and other social issues. The momentum around the holiday has been growing for decades, according to Kelly Navies, an oral historian at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture , whose

If the momentum behind policing reform is channeled responsibly, as it was in previous civil-rights struggles, then Americans will support it. On the 19th of June in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with a group of Union soldiers and After the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement to global prominence, Juneteenth has drawn more attention this year than ever before. Today’s celebrations of black liberation from the chattel slavery of the Old South come at a time when the relationship between law enforcement and the

A year later, Juneteenth comes as Congress struggles to pass sweeping legislation that would protect the rights of voters of color and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bolsters police accountability.

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The day also drops into a culture war, as state legislatures attempt to ban school discussions of the long-lasting effects of slavery, systemic racism and critical race theory.

A decades-long push to make the day a federal holiday continues. But Juneteenth's increasing popularity coincides with a concentrated effort to limit public relearning of precisely what it asks America to remember: how the nation's early history of enslaving African Americans affects current legislation that restricts voter access and marginalizes voters of color.

'Grandmother of Juneteenth' celebrates federal holiday -- but there is more work to do. Here's how you can help

  'Grandmother of Juneteenth' celebrates federal holiday -- but there is more work to do. Here's how you can help Before Juneteenth became an official federal holiday, 94-year-old Opal Lee was on a mission. © courtesy Larry Don Miller Jr Activist Opal Lee is at the center of Juneteenth becoming a national holiday. Known as the "Grandmother of Juneteenth," her mission pushed the day to become federally recognized. "I'm not just going to sit and rock, you know?" the determined "Grandmother of Juneteenth" told CNN. "The Lord is going to have to catch me.

AMERICANS have marked Juneteenth by protesting against racism amid nationwide calls to end racial injustice. The holiday, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people, is typically celebrated with parades and festivals. Behind them was a statue of Adolpho Birch, the first Black man to serve as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Tennesee Gov Bill Lee, a Republican, signed a proclamation on Friday to recognize Juneteenth Day. The growing recognition of Juneteenth comes as protests have started to yield results in enacting policing reforms in several

The Juneteenth celebrations took place against a backdrop of unprecedented nationwide protests demanding racial justice sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes. In Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, hundreds of people donning face masks celebrated American black identity and culture with African music, food and art. On the West Harlem Pier, a male-led gathering called ‘‘protect our queens” demanded justice for Breonna Taylor and other women of color killed by police .

Almost all states recognize Juneteenth

Juneteenth is recognized with some form of observance in every state plus the District of Columbia, except for South Dakota.

Lawmakers and advocates have continually pushed for Congress to enact the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. In February, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ed Markey, D-Mass, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, R-Texas, reintroduced the bipartisan legislation.

More: What to know about Juneteenth

“As it [Juneteenth] takes on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all our roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing. This is why we must establish the Juneteenth Independence Day, as a national holiday,” Jackson Lee said in a statement at the time. The bill has neither passed in the House nor the Senate.

Opal Lee, a 94-year-old Texas native, also has spent years advocating for Congress to enact legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. In 2016, Lee walked the 1,400 miles from Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington to push for the legislation. Each day, Lee walked two-and-a-half miles to symbolize the two-and-a-half years it took for enslaved people in Texas to be informed of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead

  Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans rejoiced Thursday after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, but some said that, while they appreciated the recognition at a time of racial reckoning in America, more is needed to change policies that disadvantage too many of their brethren. “It’s great, but it’s not enough,” said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City. Grant said she was delighted by the quick vote this week by Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday because “it's been a long time coming.”But she added that “we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don't regress any further.

Juneteenth : Why 2020's Celebration 'Represents More' Than in Past Years, NAACP & BLM Activists Say. "I’m hopeful that we can make time and space to celebrate and recognize our victories," says Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi. "The significance of Juneteenth has always been meaningful in the Black community," Loftin, 31, tells PEOPLE. "However, in the face of the continuous onslaught of racial incidents, police brutality and killings, and hate crimes, we' re witnessing a renewed effort to uplift holidays that bring attention to the real history of this country."

Juneteenth is the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, learned they had been freed from bondage, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Some places that didn't already mark Juneteenth as a paid holiday moved in recent days to do so, including New York state. The growing recognition of Juneteenth comes as protests have yielded results, including policing reforms in several places. Also gaining momentum were longstanding demands to remove symbols and names associated with slavery and oppression.

Andrew J. Torget, a historian of 19th century North America at the University of North Texas, said Juneteenth’s celebration is a testament to the will of the American people to honor the end of slavery.

“It's important that we have a moment that is now becoming a national moment, not because of legislation, and not because anyone has decreed it. But because large swaths of the American public are embracing it,” Torget said.

He grew up in Texas but wasn't taught about Juneteenth while in school. It wasn't until college that he learned more.

“I think we've come a long way with just celebrating Juneteenth and having that public discussion. And I love personally that every year we're having a discussion about the end of slavery that wasn't true when I was a kid growing up,” Torget said. “I had to go to graduate school and study the South at the University of Virginia to understand that.”

What we get wrong about Juneteenth

Contrary to popular narrative, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not liberate all enslaved people in the United States at the same time. The proclamation only applied to secessionist states that were fighting against the Union during the Civil War.

Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead

  Black Americans laud Juneteenth holiday, say more work ahead WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Americans rejoiced Thursday after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, but some said that, while they appreciated the recognition at a time of racial reckoning in America, more is needed to change policies that disadvantage too many of their brethren. © Provided by Associated Press President Joe Biden points to Opal Lee after signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. From left, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., Opal Lee, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.

Slavery was abolished in America with the passage of the 13th Amendment on Jan. 31, 1865, and its ratification on Dec. 6, 1865. But for the enslaved, the ending of slavery was far more complicated.

“The timeline of ending slavery is a little awkward because it ends in different places at different times. Abraham Lincoln announces the Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863. It frees nobody immediately,” said Torget, whose book “Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850” explains how slavery was central to the origins of Texas.

“But as Union armies make their way to the South, freedom starts coming with the Union armies. It's really the passage, of course, of the 13th Amendment in early 1865 that brings a legal end to slavery, but that means nothing if you don't finish the war.”

Civil War historian Edward T. Cotham Jr. said it would take federal forces to truly enforce the ending of slavery.

“In June of 1865, there was still this one very large pocket of enslaved people in the Confederacy that had not been liberated. Because we've never had armies that really marched through Texas the way they did in the rest of the country,” said Cotham.

Enslaved African Americans learned about the Emancipation Proclamation through informal communication networks before Granger’s order was issued.

Juneteenth is now a national holiday. What's next?

  Juneteenth is now a national holiday. What's next? Now that Juneteenth is recognized as a national holiday, advocates are weighing in on how Americans should mark the occasion and what the day should mean going forward. "Juneteenth is not a Black thing, and it's not a Texas thing," Ms. Opal Lee, whom President Joe Biden called the "grandmother of the movement" to make Juneteenth a holiday, told ABC News' "GMA3: What You Need to Know Friday.

But “it would take battlefield success and the movement of the armies and navies, to finally gain control over the Confederacy and be able to enforce emancipation. Juneteenth is kind of the culmination of that process,” Cotham said.

The narrative of Juneteenth heavily focuses on Granger issuing the order. But Cotham said, and wrote in his book “Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration,” that the general actually had very little to do with the order.

It was Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan who instructed Granger to issue it and abolitionist Maj. Frederick W. Emery, Granger’s assistant adjustant general, who drafted, issued and signed the order with Granger’s approval.

“He wrote this section of the Juneteenth order that talks about the free people now having absolute equality. And that was kind of way ahead of his time and way ahead of even where Lincoln had been at the Emancipation Proclamation,” Cotham said.

Emery's language declared "all slaves are free" and redefined the relationship between the enslaved and their owners to one of employer and "hired labor."

‘A hollow celebration’

Texas State NAACP President Gary L. Bledsoe did not grow up learning about Juneteenth’s history in Texas public schools. It’s why he’s adamant that the country celebrates Juneteenth.

“We need to honor people that suffered in bondage all those years, and we need to continue to remind the country about the pains that we've experienced so we can try to avoid going back to them,” said Bledsoe.

But he notes other state actions dilute the holiday's meaning.

'Larger than life' George Floyd statues unveiled to mark Juneteenth in US cities

  'Larger than life' George Floyd statues unveiled to mark Juneteenth in US cities Several U.S. cities unveiled new monuments this week to mark Juneteenth and honor the lives of George Floyd, Harriet Tubman and others.Terrence Floyd unveiled a statue of his brother in Brooklyn Saturday morning and led dozens gathered at a Juneteenth rally outside the Brooklyn Public Library in a chant of "We are Floyd.

While Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, it also commemorates Confederate Heroes Day. The holiday celebrates confederate soldiers such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

And recently, House Democrats in Texas walked out of the state capitol to block passage of Senate Bill 7, which would limit certain ways of voting. Critics say the bill disproportionately affects people of color.

“To be very honest we have continued to have voter suppression laws, introduced every session, even when it was a Democratic-controlled legislature,” said Bledsoe.

“June 19th is intended to celebrate freedom, but you don't want to give freedom to individuals when you continue to suppress vote. It's a hollow celebration,” he added.

More: She was the first Black person freed by Lincoln, long before his presidency. Her grave was paved over and her story hardly known.

The debate over teaching slavery in schools

When Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Harvard law school professor Annette Gordon-Reed was growing up in Texas, slavery wasn’t a topic teachers were equipped to discuss.

“When slavery in Texas was mentioned, it was presented as an unfortunate event that was to be acknowledged but quickly passed over,” Gordon-Reed writes in her book “On Juneteenth.”

Gordon-Reed also doesn’t remember learning about Juneteenth in school but “there should have been some discussion of it,” she said in interview with USA TODAY.

“I understand the real fears that people have that Juneteenth will go the way of Memorial Day, where people forget that this holiday has its roots in a Black community, ” said Niambi Carter, associate professor of political science at Howard University.

“My bigger concern with Juneteenth is that people won't want to tell the truth of what the holiday really represents,” said Carter. “And in this atmosphere where we have politicians not just talking about but turning it into policy that you cannot tell the truth, around the horrors of enslavement, that you cannot tell the truth around the horrors of Jim Crow.”

Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong'o & More Celebs Celebrate Juneteenth 2021

  Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong'o & More Celebs Celebrate Juneteenth 2021 Earlier this week, President Joe Biden signed a bill making June 19 a federal holiday.This holiday was named for, and is celebrated on, June 19 to commemorate the true ending of slavery in the United States. Earlier this week, days before this year's celebration, the House passed legislation after an unanimous vote and President Joe Biden signed a bill into law recognizing Juneteenth as an official federal holiday.

Critical race theory, a legal theory that explores the way slavery and racism continue to impact American society, is now a controversial topic of debate. State legislatures are passing laws that discourage schools from teaching on race and equity.

Florida has banned its public schools from teaching critical race theory, as well as the New York Times' "1619 Project," which reframes history through the lens of slavery.

Texas state Rep. Steve Toth introduced H.B. 3979, a bill that would limit teachers from discussing race in the classroom and block schools from receiving donations to develop programs around critical race theory. Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law, in effect July 1, targeting critical race theory. It bans teaching that the United States or Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the "1836 Project," which aims to promote “patriotic education” when it comes to Texas history. The project is named for the year that Texas seceded from Mexico.

a man flying a kite in front of a body of water: A demonstrator waves an American flag with the words © ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS, AFP via Getty Images A demonstrator waves an American flag with the words "Not Free" painted on it in front of the Washington Monument during a Juneteenth march and rally in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020.

Critics are concerned the project will whitewash history by ignoring the legacy of slavery.

“Talking about Juneteenth is a way to drive the history home that there was slavery. You had to have Juneteenth because of the way African American people were treated; at this time they were seen as chattel,” said Gordon-Reed. “I certainly wish these efforts were not going on, but this is a way of being adamant about the institution of slavery and the role that it played in the development of Texas and in where we are now.”

For Carter, Juneteenth is about remembering enslaved African Americans' freedom and struggles to rebuild their lives amid societal hostility to Black progress.

“We have to really thank the people of Texas for keeping that tradition for so long for the rest of us to become aware and really take ownership of this sort of collective date of remembering,” said Carter. “And it's not just a day of remembering people. It’s a day of remembering people’s perseverance. People were in an incredibly, incredibly oppressive and depressed situation that they survived. It's astounding to me.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Juneteenth celebrations arrive amid culture war on race theory, voting, police reform

Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong'o & More Celebs Celebrate Juneteenth 2021 .
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden signed a bill making June 19 a federal holiday.This holiday was named for, and is celebrated on, June 19 to commemorate the true ending of slavery in the United States. Earlier this week, days before this year's celebration, the House passed legislation after an unanimous vote and President Joe Biden signed a bill into law recognizing Juneteenth as an official federal holiday.

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