Friday, June 18, 2021

Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth is a federal holiday! It's so exciting for me and so many to learn more about this crucial part of American history. For many people from many parts of the United States, we are learning about this for the first time. For those readers who may not know: Juneteenth celebrates the day when a Union military officer arrived in Galveston, Texas and told enslaved African Americans they were free. That day was June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation making them legally free was issued. Many slaveholders withheld that information from enslaved people and continued to persecute and abuse them before and after their freedom became law.

There were so many details I learned recently while hearing and reviewing the stories that shaped our country. Did you know that President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves, only those in areas that were rebelling against the Union? Did you know that the other party in the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court case was a slaveholding white woman? Did you know enslaved Black women were forced to wean their children early so white children could have wet nurses longer? Did you know people have been celebrating Juneteenth in the United States since 1866? Did you know red food and strawberry soda are part of Juneteenth because red food symbolizes blood and strawberry drinks were previously reserved for slave owners?

Like many Americans, I've been doing a lot of watching and reading and listening over the past year, and I'm shocked how much I learned about U.S. history that was never taught in my schools. Here are a few resources I can personally recommend if you'd like somewhere to start for celebrating Juneteenth:

Juneteenth is a holiday for all Americans, not just Black Americans or descendants of slaves. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about our history and reaffirm our commitment to do better by actively seeking out justice where we can. If you're learning about Juneteenth for the first time, let's go on this journey together. How are you celebrating Juneteenth?

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