Unfinished Business

Holding on to a Historical Holiday: Juneteenth

By Quaila Hugh, a Summer 2014 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern

Before social media, it took time for news to travel.

The news of the emancipation of all slaves, for example, took two years to travel to the South, arriving when General Gordon Granger announced on June 19, 1965 in Galveston, Texas, that all slaves were free. This came two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and months after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender. Nevertheless, Black Independence Day was born.

Juneteenth is not a national holiday yet, and other than Obama’s commemoration in 2012, there has not been much national media attention around the day. But it should be remembered and celebrated as one.

Juneteenth is an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of slavery. We should collectively celebrate a day when African Americans reclaimed their humanity and when our country decided to live up to its moral standards.

The celebration of Juneteenth also reminds us that our history should never be forgotten. Celebrate in your own way, but celebrate to ensure that this day, one that isn’t necessarily taught in America’s schools, continues to be remembered.