Juneteenth National Independence Day is also known as Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and/or Emancipation Day. It marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the 1800s. In 2021 President Biden signed it into law as an official national holiday.
In 1962 President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in Texas, along with other states that rebelled against the Union two years earlier. It wasn’t until Dec 1865 that the Thirteenth Amendment was created to abolish slavery nationwide.
What a difference a year makes! This time in 2020 we were all suffering from a pandemic holiday season.
Celebrations of the date began in 1866 but didn’t become widely commercialized until the 1920s, focusing on food fairs, most often. Texas in 1938, by proclamation, and then legislation in 1979, 49 states and D.C. formally recognized it. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s eclipsed its attention but came back into view during the 1970s. During that time it was mostly local celebrations focused on freedom and African-American arts.
According to Wikipedia:
Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and reading of works by noted African-American writers, such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests. Juneteenth is also celebrated by the Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles who escaped from slavery in 1852 and settled in Coahuila, Mexico. Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was declared a holiday in 1983.
Juneteenth Becomes National Holiday
In this episode political psychologist, Dr. Bart Rosi, Ph.D. discusses the historic day with local Florida CBS affiliate Wink news.