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What is Juneteenth and how are people marking the day?

What is Juneteenth and how are people marking the day?
Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States

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Juneteenth Marks Third Anniversary as Federal Holiday in the US

Wednesday, June 19, commemorates the third anniversary of Juneteenth being recognized as a federal holiday in the United States. The establishment of this holiday in 2021 was a response to the nationwide outcry following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and other African Americans, whose deaths were ruled as racially motivated. President Joe Biden signed a bill on June 19, 2021, creating the holiday and leveraging it as a catalyst for addressing police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers informed enslaved African Americans of their freedom. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, slavery continued until after the end of the Civil War in 1865, with approximately 250,000 African Americans still enslaved in Texas at that time.

The journey to recognizing Juneteenth as a U.S. holiday for African Americans started with racial tensions during the late 1960s. State Representative Al Edwards of Texas established Juneteenth USA in 1979, advocating for its recognition as a state holiday. After 40 years of work, 45 states had passed legislation recognizing it. In 2017, activist Opal Lee walked 1,400 miles from Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to garner support from Congress. U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee introduced the bill to Congress 12 times over 22 years before it was finally signed into law.

Today, people celebrate Juneteenth by honoring African American history and culture through civil rights activism, readings on African American history, festivals, musical performances, and supporting Black-owned businesses. It is a day to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who fought for freedom and equality.

The recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a significant step in acknowledging the pain associated with the holiday while celebrating the resilience of African American ancestors.

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