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<<Mission Blog Home Posted: 06-14-2021

What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth goes by many names: Jubilee Day, Liberation Day or even Emancipation Day. It is the day we commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued announcing the end of slavery in the United States. Sadly it wasn’t until June 19th , 1865 that the news reached every enslaved American. More than two and half years after the proclamation was issued, Gordon Granger, a Union army officer, reached Galveston, Texas where he announced to the last group of enslaved Americans the news that slavery was officially declared over.  

Juneteenth is one of the most important holidays in United States history. Henry Louis Gates Jr. said it best: “In one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts of the post-Civil War period, they transformed June 19th from a day of unheeded military orders into their own annual rite.” Juneteenth is a day where African Americans across the country could celebrate their first steps in claiming their rights as American citizens. Despite the many obstacles, trials, and tribulations that were to come, this day serves as a reminder of the progress that can be made when people work together for the greater good. As the African American community is still plagued by societal issues, Juneteenth also stands as a symbol of hope.  

Juneteenth celebrations consist of barbeques, block parties, festivals, and community service programs. At these celebrations, you might notice the Afro-American flag which consists of the colors red, black, and green. Red represents the blood that unites the people and that was shed by those who died in the fight for freedom. Black represents the color of our skin. Lastly, green represents the wealth of the land of our origin. You may also find red drinks like strawberry soda or red foods such as Red Velvet cake. These food items come from a West African tradition of having red food and drinks at celebrations. This culinary tradition is still practiced in the United States and throughout the Caribbean as an homage to the collective homeland.  

So again, what is Juneteenth? It is a day where we celebrate freedom, hope, and progress in the United States. It’s a day where we can remember the end of an unjust era and celebrate the steps forward on a path of equality for African Americans. 

About the Author: Brittney Jones is a Humanities Instructor at the Goodwill Excel Center.

Working Capital, Goodwill mission blog author
This article was written by: Brittney Jones
Humanities Instructor, Goodwill Excel Center


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