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What is Juneteenth and why you should be celebrating it?

Juneteenth is upon us and it’s time to reflect on how far we’ve come in the battle for racial equality and how much further we have left to go. This is a battle that’s been waging since the inception of the United States.

What is Juneteenth?

It’s a celebration that commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States.

In 1863 the emancipation proclamation which officially outlawed slavery was signed but it wasn’t implemented until about two years later, on June, 19, 1865. A year later, in Texas, a group of freedmen organized the very first Juneteenth celebration. At that time, it was known as “Jubilee Day”. Over a 100 years later, the state of Texas declared that Juneteenth was a holiday of great significance for the black community of Texas. It was the first state to officially establish Juneteenth as a state holiday. Juneteenth is currently a “partially staffed” holiday in Texas. Government offices do not close but have reduced staff and employees may take the day off or substitute it for another one. In 2021, a bill has just been passed by the senate to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Though it has long been celebrated by the black community, it is a history is largely unknown to the wider public.

Why should we observe Juneteenth?

Juneteenth marks a date of major significance in American history. The lives of so many people were forever changed for the better. It reminds us of how long the road is to freedom and racial equality is. Freedom is a right which the black American community fought hard for and for all of us. A battle that continues to this day. This is a great day to learn and acknowledge the many contributions, often forgotten ones that black American have done for our communities. Did you know that the world's first heart surgery was done at a black owned hospital by a black surgeon Daniel Hale Williams? Juneteenth helps us celebrate the culture and achievements of black people. For many African Americans, June 19 is their real Independence Day. It’s the oldest celebration of emancipation and has a lot of history and importance behind it. As we pursue social justice to create positive change in our nation and in our country, Juneteenth is a great way to start to open up the dialog. Having an open discussion regarding two “independence” days. Reflecting why this is for important for black Americans in fact ALL Americans.

How should we observe it?

There are many ways you can observe this holiday! Some of the ways are supporting your locally owned community businesses. Educating yourself and learning how you can interact and fellowship with those in our community who are currently racially marginalized. Using your voice and space to spread love and equality. You can also take time to read and consume media by black creators, visit a black history museum, and learn about prominent black figures in American history! Always remember, there are many ways to celebrate and to spread love! For more information about Danzversity and how we’re trying to help, you can read about our story and commitment to diversity here.

- by Divi


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