What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is a day that honors and celebrates Black liberation. The holiday dates back to June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received word that the war had ended and that all enslaved people were now free.
This was a full two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Though the proclamation cemented this freedom two years earlier, it wasn’t until Union troops arrived on June 19th that the proclamation could actually be enforced. Read more about Juneteenth history here and here.
We now celebrate the end of slavery on June 19 to honor the day all Black people were freed — with the understanding that freedom and justice have always been delayed for Black people in the United States.
How can we celebrate today?
Today, Juneteenth is about celebrating Black culture, history, and life; and is an opportunity to build community and take action towards our collective liberation.
So how can we celebrate? If you’re Black, celebrate however you want!
If you’re not, take the time to continue educating yourself and use your privilege to combat racism.
On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially – and finally – became a federal holiday. And yet, we have so much work to do. Systemic racism is deeply rooted in the foundations and institutions of our country. None of us are free until all of us are free.
A challenge for allies on Juneteenth.
It is essential to take action. Celebrate Juneteenth by advancing equity, justice, and freedom within your sphere of influence. Here are 5 action steps to take this Juneteenth week, and every week after that, to fight against racism until all of us are free. Let’s get to work.
Educate yourself and others. Seek out resources to learn the ugly truths of our history, and keep learning about anti-racism advocacy.
Tell Congress: Declare racism a public health crisis. [click here]
Support organizations doing the racial justice work in your community.
Support and intentionally buy from Black-owned businesses.
Take a stand against racism, every day. When you see something, say something. Call out your friends and have difficult conversations.
YWCA Columbus is boldly dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Learn more about our work.