Activism & Advocacy

What is Juneteenth?

Originally published in June 2020. Updated to reflect the recent news of Juneteenth becoming the first new federal holiday in 38 years.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” —General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

These words issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, era, according to historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., helped establish the basis for “Juneteenth” (“June” plus “nineteenth”), the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the U.S., observed in Black communities for 155 years prior to becoming an official United States Federal Holiday in 2021.

Want to learn more? Here are some resources:

BBC News – Juneteenth: What is the newest US holiday and how is it celebrated?

CNN – ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’ celebrates federal holiday — but there is more work to do. Here’s how you can help

Juneteenth.com

 

Photo:  An Emancipation Day celebration band, June 19, 1900; courtesy of the University of North Texas Libraries, Wikimedia Commons.

COMMENTS

12 responses to “What is Juneteenth?

  1. I’m in agreement with most of what’s already conveyed.
    Perhaps next year Senior Planet will hold a first-time event to recognize, educate, or celebrate the official Juneteenth Holiday. Anyone who would be open minded to attend would learn something of the importance, details, and meaning of why it became a Federal Holiday and going forward expectations of it. I, among so many regardless of race, am very sensitive to the tenacity of my enslaved Black ‘American’ ancestors who endured with the faith of reaching freedom eventually within the United States of AMERICA. Unbeknown to them USA enslavement lasted 400+ years of inhuman treatment including murder in any way one could conjure-up.

  2. Articles on slavery will have a different tenor if the word ‘slave’ is replaced by ‘enslaved’.
    Slave – bland
    Enslaved conjures up a completely different set of visuals – being held vst your will; human-trafficking; brutality of the enslavers and their enforcers; injustice at its highest
    Makes white people uncomfortable.

  3. Regarding Juneteenth, I think some additional material should be published by Senior Planet . . . perhaps including comments from members who would like to share. I have known too little about the origins, but I care deeply, and as a white person I appreciate all chances to learn more of others’ backgrounds and experiences. Further, we are at an extremely important point in America’s race relations . . . it is time to do more, and learn more.

    In the case of Juneteenth, what moves me deeply is that while Lincoln ended slavery in 1893, word did not reach Texan slaves until 1865. Imagine all the time and progress we robbed these good people of . . . only to delay telling all they were free. There are excellent articles in the Cover feature of Google, among them a fine piece in The Atlantic.

    I concur with your (editor’s) remark concerning the importance of using our features for outreach and education. Let’s move ahead!

    Thanks!

    1. Eileen it’s my understanding that the enslaved didn’t hear about freedom until 1865 because the crops that
      had been planted had not yet come to
      fruition. The enslaved were kept so that the land owners would reap the benefits of the harvest.

    1. Thanks for writing in, Janet. We hear you and appreciate you taking the time to express yourself.

      Here is some context on why we posted this article: Senior Planet is a project of the nonprofit Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), and social advocacy has always been at the heart of what OATS does. You can read more about OATS advocacy here (https://oats.org/advocacy/). We speak out about many issues that impact older adults, including ageism, workforce discrimination, transit issues, and more. We also empower older adults to advocate for the issues that matter to them. We specifically offer a course called ACTivate that teaches digital tools for civic engagement, and its participants have had respectful, meaningful conversations even when they disagree politically.

      Juneteenth is a day commemorating the end of slavery, which Americans have widely acknowledged as an important step in our history, regardless of their political affiliation. In the end, Senior Planet is a politically diverse group, united by our desire to improve the lives of older adults everywhere.

      We hope to see you at a Senior Planet program soon!

  4. when I click on petition here, the page goes blank, : (

    thought you’d like to know. I’ll try other links and see if I can find one that leads me to the petition.

    thanks for all you’re doing! I love your newsletters.
    jean

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