I was today years old when I learned this is an actual holiday. And frankly, I’m ashamed I didn’t know.
First, some backstory:
While watching the news this morning, the weatherperson had just talked about the temperature today and how it was going to reach a feels-like of over 100 degrees. The anchor then talks about a Junteenth festival. I didn’t think a lot about it, but Big D says, “What’s Junteenth?” I shrugged, commented something along the lines of “… a shame it’s not in October when it’s not so hot.”
A little later, I’m cooling off in my chair whilst scrolling Facebook. My friend Danielle, of Mamademics fame, had posted she was off to celebrate Junteenth.
Since we live about 400 miles from each other, I immediately went to Google to get more information because I knew I’d missed something important. (Side-note: Hey, Google. How about you have a different doodle up, today, hmm? Seriously a missed opportunity there.)
For those of you that already knew what today means, and you are shaking your head at my ignorance, thank you.
For the rest, please follow me for a very important history lesson.
June 19th is referred to as Junteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, according to Wikipedia. Today, it is celebrated in 45 states.
On June, 19 1865, the announcement of the abolition of enslaved African-Americans in Texas as well as other states in the southern Confederacy. You thought it was Abraham Lincoln’s doing? Yeah, me too.
I found another article in “Time.”
There is a common misconception among Americans that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with a stroke of his pen. Yet the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, did no such thing — or, at least, it didn’t do a very good job of it. Two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers sailed into Galveston, Texas, announced the end of the Civil War, and read aloud a general order freeing the quarter-million slaves residing in the state. It’s likely that none of them had any idea that they had actually been freed more than two years before. It was truly a day of mass emancipation. It has become known as Juneteenth.
I found another amazing resource which goes into deeper detail of this important holiday and its history through the years.
I’m not sure whether to blame the educational system – and both college history courses – or myself for not educating myself more on the history of this country and those who occupy it.
Either way, it’s time to step-up and get to reading.