Although Juneteenth may not be a household term, it represents an extremely important date in the history of our country.
High Swartz celebrates equal rights and understands that education and solidarity are important on this day and every day.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a combination of 2 words – June and Nineteenth, or June 19th, which is the day that Americans recognize the emancipation of slavery in the United States. Although many may not be aware of the holiday or have only recently heard of it, recognition dates back to the year after slavery was abolished on June 19, 1865. On this date, Union Army General Gordon Granger announced that slavery was abolished in Texas.
Although President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in slave states over two and a half years earlier, enforcement relied on the presence of Union troops in those areas. Even two Union Border States, Delaware and Kentucky still legally practiced slavery up until the ratification of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery nationwide. Texas, being the farthest state from the Union army’s impact made it difficult to enforce the law. It was the arrival of the army in Texas that effectively ended the practice in southern states.
Is Juneteenth a national holiday?
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the national observance of Juneteenth, or June 19th as a federal holiday. Holiday recognition by the U.S. government is rare, making Juneteenth only the 11th date acknowledged in history. The last holiday recognized was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
Over the years, legislation had been introduced multiple times to declare Juneteenth as a national holiday. Juneteenth was officially made a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and in 2020 in Virginia, New York, and New Jersey made the date a paid day of leave for state employees.