Juneteenth 2021

Maria Colacurcio, CEO, June 18, 2021

Juneteenth marks the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas in 1865. 

President Lincoln issued and signed The Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It became effective on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were freed. Slave owners from Eastern States had migrated to Texas and brought their slaves with them after the Civil War. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.  This means that Juneteenth was recognized two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Juneteenth (and many other dates for various states) have been used to commemorate the end of slavery in America. It took until this year, 2021, for Juneteenth to become an official federal holiday. 

Kevin Young writes in today’s New York Times, 

“Perhaps the commemorations from Tulsa to Texas should remind us of the threats that shadowed Emancipation long after slavery was legally over. And that we need more than just one day to call our attention to freedoms delayed and denied. Maybe what we need is an Emancipation season? Or, I can almost hear my late father say, just plain old full-throated freedom would be nice. Certainly it would be tremendous to collectively celebrate not just the nation’s freedom from foreign rule, as we do on Independence Day, but also our release from the tyranny of slavery.”

Juneteenth has no marred past other than the previous longstanding oppression that it marks the end of. Juneteenth is a holiday by and for people of color, and especially Black Americans. 

The solemn remembrance, reflection, and merrymaking of Juneteenth all serve to remind us that Juneteenth is a holiday about Black liberation–its past, present and future. As we approach Juneteenth, consider what it means for you, your family, your community, and Syndio. What does Juneteenth remind us about our country’s history? What should we be looking for in future years with regards to the promise of Juneteenth? How can we as both individuals and groups further Black liberation? 

We now have a day to reflect on the injustice. The time is now. Reflect and move into action. What will you do? 

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