Whatup Homee(s)?! Happy Juneteenth! I’m excited to celebrate Juneteenth with my family this year, especially since it’s now officially a national holiday! Truthfully, I didn’t really understand the importance of Juneteenth until last year but ever since I’ve learned a lot about its significance in American history and the importance of celebrating the holiday.
Juneteenth was first celebrated June 19th, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. But let’s not forget what led to the Emancipation Proclamation. In the Civil War black men fought for our freedom, one of the most well-known was the 54th Massachusetts volunteer infantry, the first all-black volunteer regiment. In the movie Glory, they show some of the trials they had to endure.
After the Civil War, General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, Texas and informed 250,000 slaves that they had been free and didn’t even know about it for almost three years. (I’m glad that we have the internet and phones now because I can’t imagine how they must’ve felt to receive such important news so late.)
With that being said, Juneteenth is important to me not only because it’s the day of freedom for everyone but also because it’s a day of celebration and perseverance as Black Americans. Even after our freedom we endured injustice and hate towards us with laws such as the Jim Crow Laws, that would go against us for basically breathing!
Back then just walking down the street could get you killed. Celebrating Juneteenth during that time meant more than just our freedom from slavery, it meant that we could overcome the hate that was thrown at us. It meant that being black was a beautiful thing and something to have pride in.
I learn black history everyday from the new things I learn about the trials and triumphs we’ve overcome. Like how the flag has so many details with so many different meanings. The Arc signifies fresh opportunities and a bright future for Black Americans. The Star is a reference to the Lone Star State, Texas, where Juneteenth originated and the freedom of Black Americans across America. And finally, the Burst signifies a nova or new star meaning new beginnings.
And all of this was thought of by a man by the name of Ben Haith who also was the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation or NJCF for short.
So this year I hope to celebrate with all of the customary traditions such as the red foods that signify the blood of our ancestors. Red velvet cake, red beans, and rice or red barbeque along with some good strawberry soda. My personal favorite soda is Sprite but in the spirit of Juneteenth, I’ll drink some Strawberry Fanta.
In the end remember this day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, whatever you call it. This day was made for us to celebrate black liberation and black history. Our liberation is in our history and our history is what makes us the people we are.
So again Happy Juneteenth everyone! Hope you have an amazing one and learn something new!
Here are some resources to learn more about Juneteenth!
The Story of Juneteenth by Steven Otfinoski
All Different Now by Angela Johnson and E.B Lewis
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
What is Juneteenth and Why do we celebrate it? Uploaded by BrainPop
Juneteenth All about the Holidays. Uploaded by PBS
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