Saturday is Juneteenth, a celebration of the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans.
The date itself is the anniversary of Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger’s June 19, 1865 announcement of General Order No. 3, which proclaimed that Blacks would be free from slavery in Texas. That order came nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in the Confederate states.
It is, without question, a celebration — a celebration of the end of one of the most ghastly chapters in American history. Its significance is so great that Congress voted this week to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. President Biden has signed that bill into law.
It also is now an official holiday on the MACPA’s calendar — a time to celebrate the end of slavery, yes, but also to acknowledge the evil that humans are capable of, the justice that has yet to be served, and the systemic American flaws that still exist.
It’s a time to say, “We did this. This is who we were then … but it’s not who we will be tomorrow. And we will do better.”
I hope you’ll join the MACPA team in celebrating the holiday in a way that feels right to you. Here are some ideas:
- Learn the history of Juneteenth. Here are some great places to start from The New York Times, History.com, NPR, and Wikipedia.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
- Spread the word. A recent Harris poll found that 33 percent of Americans are “not at all” aware of the significance of June 19. Learn what you can and share what you know.
- Celebrate, in a way seems appropriate to you. Here are some ideas from AARP.org: “Red is the color associated with the holiday, as it symbolizes sacrifice and transition. Celebrations typically include red foods like red velvet cake, red beverages, watermelon, and barbecued meats. Popular sides including corn bread, collard greens, and cabbage represent prosperity, good fortune, and wealth in Black history.” In short, there is no wrong way to celebrate. “It’s a celebration of freedom, of what we’ve overcome,” Frederick Goodall told AARP.org. “Just indulge yourself in the joy of that.”
Learn. Grow. Celebrate. And have a happy Juneteenth.