Juneteenth is an important day for Black Americans because, on this day in 1865, an official announcement declared the end of slavery in the United States. It happened in Galveston, Texas, and was a decision based on President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. However, there was a delay of nearly two years for its implementation due to various reasons. It is a holiday in Texas and has names other than Emancipation Day like Black Independence Day.

This year Juneteenth is important because of the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody. It led to demonstrations that spilled over to different parts of the US and even went beyond geographical boundaries.

The demonstrators demanded police reforms. They also wanted an examination into the history of racial inequality that has shown an upward trend. Another demand is to take down Confederate statues apart from declaring Juneteenth as a national holiday.

NBC News says the current year is the election year and President Donald Trump wanted to hold a public rally on this day in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This city had witnessed the worst outbreaks of racial violence in American history way back in 1921. It took place when a racist white mob killed hundreds of Black residents.

However, Trump subsequently had a rethinking and decided to postpone the rally to the next day.

Links of American history to Juneteenth

It was on June 19, 1865, that an Army officer landed up in Galveston, Texas. He was Gen. Gordon Granger and he had come with Union soldiers to announce the good news to enslaved Africans Americans.

It was that the Civil War had ended and they were free. It was President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The decision was a two-year-old one and the delay in the announcement was due to procedural reasons.

NBC News quotes Julian Hayter, a historian saying - “Juneteenth has always been particularly special for African Americans.

It’s this critical inflection point in the Black freedom struggle.” Cliff Robinson, the founder of Juneteenth.com adds that most states hold the celebrations. In the southern states, the celebrations include picnics, rodeos, and family-oriented programs.

Many Americans are ignorant about Juneteenth

Julian Hayter goes on to add that there are Americans who have little knowledge about Juneteenth and its importance to a section of the people. In his words - “The fact that many Americans don’t know what Juneteenth is is exactly why we’re at this space right now." He looks at it as “an addendum to American history.” In his opinion, in case the ongoing protests can bring about some lasting change, Juneteenth could gain national prominence.

NBC News says that within the last couple of decades, the number of companies celebrating Juneteenth has risen. Cliff Robinson cautioned those celebrating it this year to take necessary precautions in view of the coronavirus. He adds that demands are on the rise to identify this as a national holiday. Some high-end companies have labeled it as a company holiday. This is an example of the changing times.

Importance of Juneteenth increasing

According to CNN, Juneteenth commemorates a milestone in the history of America. It brought at the end of slavery in the United States but the nation continues to struggle with issues related to systemic racism and injustice. This is evident from the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

The date is a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Food and festivities usually accompany the celebration. Activists want Juneteenth declared as a federal holiday. An informal celebration of Juneteenth was from 1865, and Texas was the first state to declare it a state holiday in 1980.

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