The Importance of Juneteenth Explained Children’s News Article

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States (Credit: https://www.dodea.edu)

June 19 — a combination of the words June and nineteenth — is one of the oldest known holidays commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865 that the last slave people – a group in Texas – learned that slavery had been forbidden and that they were free. The events leading up to what many call “America’s true Independence Day” began with the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

The order, issued during the American Civil War (1861-1865), freed millions of slaves in 11 Confederate States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. However, the Union-loyal border states of Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky were exempt and continued to practice slavery. 13 Amendment, passed by the United States Congress on January 31, 1865, closed the loophole and made slavery illegal nationwide.

The 13th Amendment helped free all unfreed slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. (www.abraham-lincoln-history.org)

Combined legislation helped free all but a group of approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas. Unaware of the new laws, they stayed in slavery until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce General Order No. executive of the United States, all slaves are free, which implies a equality of rights and property rights between former masters and slaves, and the bond which hitherto existed between them becomes that which existed between the employer and the hired worker.

Juneteenth was born the following year when a group of old Texan slaves celebrated their newfound freedom with barbecues, dances and prayers. Over time, Freedom Day, or Black Independence Day as it is also known, has been observed in varying degrees in most US states. It was even declared a public holiday in Texas in 1980. However, the holiday is still misunderstood outside of the African American community and often eclipse by the celebration of the independence day of July 4th. But the growing awareness of the pursuit systemic racism in the United States finally produces the national of Juneteenth importance.

An early Juneteenth celebration (Credit: Mrs. Charles Stephenson (Grace Murray) Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons)

Starting in 2021, Juneteenth will be a holiday in Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania. Oregon and Washington have recently adopted legislation to make Juneteenth a public holiday from 2022. Major companies, like Twitter, Nike and Spotify, have also started including June 19 in their annual calendar. listing paid leave for employees.

The constant growth acknowledgement isn’t enough for Opal Lee, who has been fighting for June 16 to be a national holiday since 1989. The 94-year-old says, “None of us are free until we’re all free And we weren’t free on the Fourth of July, 1776. I am defend we celebrate from June 19 to July 4. It would be celebrating freedom.”

Every June 19, the activist draws attention to the quest while leading a 2.5 mile walk down West Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth, TX. The distance symbolizes the 2.5 years it took for slaves in Texas to discover they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Lee also took his cause online with a petition for 3 million signatures on Change.org. So far, over 1.6 million people have signed up and the numbers are growing every day. While the 94-year-old man is confident that Juneteenth will soon be declared a national holiday, she just hopes it will be in her lifetime.

Happy June 10!

Resources: Wikidpedia.org, CNN.com, NPR.com

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