A Little History…
Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed many African Americans, slavery itself wasn’t abolished altogether. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, declared the end of the Civil War, and read aloud General Orders, No. 3, that all slaves were freed, creating a ripple effect across the country in what has become known as Juneteenth.
Celebrated the following year, in 1866, Juneteenth became a day similar in festivities
to the Fourth of July, with prayer services, inspirational speakers, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and merrymaking which included food and drink, dancing, storytelling, and other exciting events.
Here are a few ideas to jump start your Juneteenth celebration, both in educational and entertaining ways:
Host a day-at-work seminar: Invite guest speakers knowledgeable of Juneteenth
and its timeline to talk to your company’s employees in order to familiarize them with
the observance and its meaning. Create a theme and post your company’s involvement
on its web site.
Community involvement: Organize events at your local schools and libraries. Create interactive displays that can educate participants on the origin of Juneteenth and its evolution, and ask local businesses to sponsor these events.
Plan a picnic: Land in parts of Texas purchased by ex-slaves, known as “emancipation grounds,” was later turned into Emancipation Parks in such areas as Houston, East Austin, and now Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia, Texas. Host your own outdoor gathering with food and festivities to celebrate the day.
Contact Congress: Although it was made an official holiday in the state of Texas on January 1, 1980, Juneteenth has yet to receive national recognition. Several U.S. Senators, public officials, and other outspoken individuals have been working to ensure that Juneteenth becomes an officially recognized national holiday, similar to Patriot Day or Flag Day. Show your appreciation for these men and women by contacting them and supporting their efforts.