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Juneteenth is worth celebrating

William Reed

William Reed

Business Exchange

Juneteenth is worth celebrating

By William Reed

     Did you know that the official African-American holidays are: Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Juneteenth? What do you, and your family, do to celebrate Juneteenth? Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, the Juneteenth holiday is an abbreviated form of “June Nineteenth.” It marks the day Blacks in Texas belatedly received word that President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed the nation’s slaves.

Black Americans should commemorate Juneteenth as the date in 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived with his troops at Galveston Island and read President Lincoln’s proclamation freeing the state’s 200,000 slaves. The proclamation had originally taken effect on Jan. 1, 1863, but word didn’t reach Texas until two months after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, more than two years after the proclamation was issued. Explanations for the holdup vary. Depending on who’s doing the explaining, the delay could have been attributed to anything from bureaucratic delays to a slow mule. Once freed, several self-sustaining Black farming communities grew up in Texas, and across the land, as freed men tilled their own soil.

Descendants of slaves should institute some modern-day ritual as we continue the country’s oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery. An African-American tradition since the late 19th century, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or day of observance in 42 states. On June 19th, 2013, the Dr. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, will join with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to host a ceremony to unveil a statue of Frederick Douglass at the U.S. Capitol with Myers reading Douglass’ historic speech: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” The speech is a classic: July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall and told his audience, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.’”

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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