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Celebrate Juneteenth

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Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day, is an American holiday celebrated annually on June 19. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free.

Traditional Activities Have Included:

  • Pot luck outdoor cookouts, barbecues or picnics
  • Baseball games
  • Workplace lunches
  • Rodeos
  • Neighborhood or block parties
  • Community flag-raising ceremonies
  • Displays in city halls, libraries, schools, and post offices.
  • Essay or artwork competitions for young people
  • Presentations of community service awards
  • Distribution of Juneteenth buttons, t-shirts, mugs, and bags
  • Decorate yards with Juneteenth banners
  • Displaying official flag to raise awareness of the event
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Juneteenth Festivities

About Juneteenth:

1 Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth dates back to the American Civil War in 1865, when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended, and that enslaved people were now free.

2 While President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation declared the end of slavery two years before Major Granger arrived in Texas with the news, June 19, 1865 is the day chosen to celebrate the freedom of enslaved people because it's largely seen as the day that news of the end of slavery reached most of the (former) Confederacy.

3 Juneteenth celebrations can take place for a whole week or month, and involves an emphasis on education about the importance of the holiday. This year, celebrations are happening all over the country with parties, parades, and feasts, as well as Miss Juneteenth pageants and community performances.

Juneteenth Flag

Texas declared Juneteenth an official state holiday in 1980, and 44 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, observe it. In 1997, the founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF), Ben Haith, created the Juneteenth flag. It was later revised in 2000 to what we know today by L.J. Graf and the date, June 19, 1865, was added back in 2007.

  • The Juneteenth flag consists of a rectangle. The lower part of the rectangle is red and the upper part is blue and it has a solid white, five-pointed star at its center.
  • The star is surrounded by a white outline of a 12-pointed star. The Juneteenth flag is often displayed with the United States flag to symbolize that slavery is illegal.
  • The official Juneteenth Flag is Red, White and Blue. Not Pan-African RBG and definitely not the Ghanaian Kente Cloth.

Descendant of Slavery

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana,
Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America.

Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territories. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Negro National Anthem

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American writer and civil rights activist. He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson. Johnson was a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917.

In 1920, he was the first African American to be chosen as executive secretary of the organization, effectively the operating officer. He served in that position from 1920 to 1930. Johnson established his reputation as a writer, and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture.

He was appointed under President Theodore Roosevelt as US consul in Venezuela and Nicaragua for most of the period from 1906 to 1913. In 1934 he was the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University. Later in life, he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University, a historically black university.

Johnson was born in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Helen Louise Dillet, a native of Nassau, Bahamas, and James Johnson. His maternal great-grandmother, Hester Argo, had escaped from Saint-Domingue (today Haiti) during the revolutionary upheaval in 1802, along with her three young children, including James' grandfather Stephen Dillet (1797–1880). Although originally headed to Cuba, their boat was intercepted by privateers and they were taken to Nassau, where they permanently settled. In 1833 Stephen Dillet became the first man of color to win election to the Bahamian legislature (ref: James Weldon Johnson, Along This Way, his autobiography)


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