As June begins, you may have heard about the celebration of Juneteenth. You might have heard someone mention Juneteenth in a comment passing by or even on a television show. But, what is Juneteenth? What makes it so significant? And why is it being celebrated? If you have the same questions as us, keep reading to find out more!
Here is some background info, the United States was at war over the tensions and disagreements between slavery, state rights, and westward expansion. This war was the Civil War. This war began because of the United States’ growth which accentuated the growing economic differences between the Northern and Southern states of the United States. Northern states had established a manufacturing and industrial economy with small-scale farming. Southern states, however, thrived off of large-scale farming that depended heavily on slave labor to grow crops such as cotton and tobacco. After the 1830s, an abolitionist movement to rid slavery spread across the north. This movement led to the northern opposition to the spread of slavery in the western territories. This northern opposition sparked fear in the south over the possibility of the extinction of slavery and the probability of the demise of the southern economy as they knew it. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. congress allowing new territories to part-take in slavery. However, congress left slavery up to the rule of popular sovereignty, essentially allowing the peoples residing in this territory to decide for themselves if they chose to take part in slavery. The issue that arose was the ideology of popular sovereignty and what it meant to those people leading to many fighting over who was in charge of deciding on slavery or not. Many outbursts of violence across the U.S. over the concern of slavery ensued. Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 pushed seven southern states over the edge (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) to secede from the United States. These seven states formed what was known as the Confederate States of America. Following Lincoln taking office in 1861, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, firing the first shots of the Civil War. Once the Confederate states took over Fort Sumter, four more states (Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee) seceded from the United States and joined the Confederates. The Civil War was the most costly and the deadliest war ever to take place on American soil. Amid the war, the Emancipation Proclamation was established on January 1st, 1863, by President Lincoln. However, this proclamation only freed enslaved people in the Confederate States overtaken by the Union, meaning all slaves were not instantly free; this proclamation just helped kickstart the fire to help free every slave in the United States. Northern troops worked their way south to fight and free the rest of the enslaved people. The civil war ended on June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, which freed the last enslaved people in the United States. The following year on June 19th, freed people in Texas celebrated Jubilee Day, also known as the very first Juneteenth celebration.
Juneteenth is a shortened version of June 19th, a day that commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. This day of celebration was sparked by the previously enslaved people of Texas and gained popularity over time by them and their families moving over the years sharing this tradition across the U.S.
In 1979, Texas was the first state to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday. After this momentous event in history, many more states followed. Although many states acknowledged this day in June as a holiday, it was not officially recognized as a national or federal holiday until June of 2021 by President Joe Biden.
Understanding the true meaning of this celebration is insightful and eye-opening! Being reminded of the history of Juneteenth and what these popular holidays and celebrations mean is vital to our future generations. From us at Lately Magazine, we hope you enjoy Juneteenth and keep its history in mind when celebrating!