US Juneteenth and 2021 celebrations: What to know about the holiday
Juneteenth celebrations arrive amid culture war on race theory, voting, police reform
Juneteenth's rise in popularity after a year of racial reckoning comes amid a culture war on voting rights and American schools' teachings on race.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.
On June 19, Americans will celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, with block parties, cookouts and educational events.
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.
The holiday is looking a little different from most years.
Millions of Americans took to the streets to protest racial injustice last summer in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. The protest movement sparked an ongoing dialogue around systemic racism and police brutality.
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.
The protests also raised attention for the importance of Juneteenth as companies including Nike, Twitter and Uber are giving employees paid days off.
WithAmericans fully vaccinated from COVID-19, many will gather in person after celebrating virtually in 2020.
Here's what you need to know about the history of Juneteenth and what celebrations are taking place this year.
'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.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed a reluctant community in Galveston, Texas, that President Abraham Lincoln had freed enslaved people in rebel states two and a half years earlier. He pressed locals to comply with the directive.
Although Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became effective Jan. 1, 1863, people who owned slaves were responsible for telling them that they were free, and some ignored the order until Union troops arrived to enforce it, according to Cliff Robinson, founder of Juneteenth.com. Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced.
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.
Though the story of Texas' emancipation is the most widely known, other significant events in the history of emancipation took place on and around that date. Steve Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, said the first known Juneteenth celebrations began in 1866 and spread across the country as African Americans migrated to new cities.
Her grave was paved over and her story hardly known:
Starting in 2022:
Today, 48 states and Washington, D.C., recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday. Hawaii passed legislation on April 27 to recognize the holiday, but it is unclear whether Hawaii's governor signed the bill into law. South Dakota still has not recognized the holiday.
Activists have pushed for wider recognition, including a designation as a national holiday and an acknowledgment by Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. In pop culture, Juneteenth celebrations have been seen in TV shows including "Black-ish" and "Atlanta."
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.
What is Juneteenth's flag?
The originalwas created in 1997 by Ben Haith, the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation. The flag has a blue and red stripe with a white star in the middle, an outline surrounding the star, and an arc that extends across the width of the flag.
According to, the star in the middle is supposed to represent the "Lone Star State" of Texas where Juneteenth was first celebrated. The arc is supposed to represent a new horizon of opportunities and futures for the Black community, and the outline surrounding the star is supposed to represent a new beginning for all. The colors on the flag are the same as the U.S. flag to show that former slaves and their descendants are free Americans too.
The flag underwent revisions in 2000, according to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, and the date "June 19, 1865," was added in 2007.
Haith initiated the first Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts in 2000. Flag-raising ceremonies have become an essential part of Juneteenth in states including Tennessee and Texas.
Declaration of Juneteenth holiday sparks scramble in states
Congress and President Joe Biden acted with unusual swiftness this week in approving Juneteenth as a national holiday. That shifted the battle to the states, where the holiday faces a far less enthusiastic response. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this June 19, 2020, file photo, demonstrators march through downtown Orlando, Fla., during a Juneteenth event. Congress and President Joe Biden acted with unusual swiftness Thursday, June 17, 2021, in approving Jun That sent many states scrambling to clarify their policies on the celebration of slavery’s end.
What celebrations are taking place?
People across the country will be celebrating Juneteenth with parties, music, festivals and parades.
New York has already announced its, where 5,000 people attended in person in 2019, and 20,000 attended virtually in 2020. The festival features talent show performers, a health and wellness screening center, educational activities for children and much more.
Thein Washington D.C. will hold presentations on the history and significance of Juneteenth and stories that celebrate the wisdom of elders.
In addition to celebrations, Juneteenth is also a time for reflection and conversation. You can listen to dialogue centered around race and equality and contribute to the conversation in a positive way. Supporting Black-owned businesses, listening to Black artists, reading books written by Black poets and authors, and donating to organizations are other ways to celebrate Juneteenth.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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.