Today is June 19th, but for many Americans it is a holiday better known as Juneteenth. Even if you hadn’t heard of Juneteenth until this year, if you’ve been anywhere near social media in the recent days (or hours), there’s very little doubt that you’ve seen SOMETHING about this historically significant day. But just in case you’re still not sure what Juneteenth commemorates, here’s a short summary (via Juneteenth.com):
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.
Just to reiterate, enslaved people in Texas weren’t freed until two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But, as we’ve been learning, there is so much more to understand about this historic day. So we’ve rounded up five articles that explore and explain the true significance of Juneteenth.
- This week, The Root published this video that gives a great overview of Juneteenth and it’s importance.
- Back in 2018, Journalist P.R. Lockhart interviewed professor of African-American studies, Karlos K. Hill, about why celebrating Juneteenth is more important than ever, in this article from Vox.This week, The Root published this video that gives a great overview of Juneteenth and it’s importance.
- We loved this article (published by Shondaland.com) about writer and director Channing Godfrey Peoples, and her thoughts on why Juneteenth needs to be a national holiday. Read this, and then stream her new film Miss Juneteenth, which was released today.
- Journalist Dianca London Potts interviewed 93-year-old activist Ms. Opal Lee about her dreams of a national Juneteenth holiday in this 2019 article, also for Shondaland.com.
- Lastly, to better understand how Juneteenth is resonating in new ways due to current events, and why its observance is especially important this year, read this article by Journalist Derrick Bryson Taylor, written for the New York Times.
In recognition of Juneteenth, the EHD team is spending today out of the office (aka our living rooms) and instead heading to some of the local marches and protests in the LA area. If you’re looking for different ways to get involved this Juneteenth here are a few suggestions:
- Check out Essence.com’s toolkit for mobilizing around the #SIXNINETEEN Movement, with actions starting today and going through the weekend.
- Sign up for this virtual summit hosted today at 1 pm EST by Digital Undivided: “Undivided We Rise is a virtual summit that brings thought leaders and influential voices together to bring awareness to digitalundivided’s vision: A world where all Black & Latinx women own their work.”
- Keep up to date on all the protests and events happening in the LA County area by following this Instagram account.
- And, if you haven’t yet seen it, TV show Blackish has an episode dedicated to Juneteenth. And it’s streaming on Hulu right now.
Finally, here’s a list of just a few things protesting – whether that be in the streets, signing petitions, sending emails, or making phone calls – has accomplished so far (while also recognizing that many organizations had been working on several of the items long before the events of the last few weeks):
- George Floyd’s murderer, police officer Derek Chauvin, was arrested and had his charges elevated from third degree to second degree. They’ve also arrested and charged the three other officers who were present, but did not intervene.
- Portland, Denver, and Minneapolis public school districts terminated their contracts with city police.
- Breonna’s Law has been passed in Louisville, banning “No-Knock” warrants (however there’s still work to do, as no officers have yet been held accountable for her murder – click here for a list of action items to keep the momentum on her case a priority!).
- In New York the State Legislature has voted to repeal Law 50-A, a law that has kept police disciplinary records unavailable to the public for 44 years.
- Officers in Dallas are now required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force.
- In Minneapolis, a veto-proof majority of nine council members have pledged to dismantle the Minneapolis police.
- The officer who murdered Rayshard Brooks has been arrested and charged with felony murder.
- Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, has announced that the city plans to reduce the LAPD budget and reallocate the funds (visit The People’s Budget LA for more information).
- Statues and monuments with racists histories have been removed all around the world.
- Brands and companies are making serious shifts in their practices (such as companies like Sephora taking the 15% Pledge).
One more thing. If you are wondering if you can purchase the beautiful piece in the opening photo and aptly named Change, you can! Head to Melissa Koby’s Etsy shop.
Opening Illustration Credit: Melissa Koby