47 of 50 US States celebrate Juneteenth
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47 of 50 US States celebrate Juneteenth

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47 of 50 US States celebrate Juneteenth. The celebration of liberation of those held as slaves

Juneteenth (a portmanteau of June and nineteenth;  also known as Freedom DayJubilee Day, and Liberation Day is a holiday celebrating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in the United States. Originally a Texas state holiday, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all people held as slaves in Texas were free.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had officially freed them almost two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.

47 of 50 US States celebrate Juneteenth

A common misconception is that this day marks the end of slavery in the United States. However, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states then in rebellion against the U.S., and slavery was still legal and existed in Union border states until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 6, 1865 abolished non-penal slavery nationwide.

Celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. It spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival. During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, it was eclipsed by the struggle for postwar civil rights, but grew in popularity again in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and arts. By the 21st century, Juneteenth was celebrated in most major cities across the United States. Activists are campaigning for the United States Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 49 of the 50 U.S. states.

47 of 50 US States celebrate Juneteenth

Modern observance is primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests. The Mascogos, descendants of Black Seminoles, of Coahuila, Mexico, also celebrate Juneteenth.

In the late 1970s the Texas Legislature declared Juneteenth a “holiday of significance particularly to the blacks of Texas”. It was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards. The law passed through the Texas Legislature in 1979 and was officially made a state holiday on January 1, 1980. Juneteenth is a “partial staffing” holiday in Texas; government offices do not close but agencies may operate with reduced staff, and employees may either celebrate this holiday or substitute it with one of four “optional holidays” recognized by Texas. In the late 1980s there were major celebrations of Juneteenth in California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.

In 2020, Juneteenth is celebrated by 47 of the 50 US states. Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the three states that neglect to celebrate the national holiday. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth

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