WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – Celebrations for Juneteenth are underway as cities across the country aim to commemorate the 156-year-old holiday.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is a celebration that recognizes the news delivered to formerly enslaved African Americans on June 19, 1865, that slavery had been abolished. Following the Civil War, African Americans continued to honor their independence through Juneteenth.
“Because of a lack of communication, it was not until June 19, 1865, that the word got to Texas,” says Majority Whip James Clyburn, speaking on the delayed news delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many people are pushing to have Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday. On Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Following that, The House of Representatives voted 415-14 on Wednesday, and the bill now goes to President Joe Biden. The president is scheduled to sign the bill which would make June 19, Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Many companies including Dominion Energy, Best Buy, Uber, Target and Nike observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday for their employees.
In the modern times of social media, many people are paying attention to African American media streams. Last year’s killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and others have incited heated dialogue, prompting a global message of unconditional equality for African Americans.
The recent Senate and House bill approvals further push the remembrance, grievances, and steps to move forward.
A host of Juneteenth celebrations are occurring in Charleston, including Lowcountry Juneteenth Week and Juneteenth Freedom Fest. Both events will consist of African American arts, live performances, non-profit organizations, and community vendors.
A list of local Juneteenth events is provided here.
African American allies can also commemorate Juneteenth by expressing support having honest discourse, and further creating safe spaces for these conversations. “If we learn, as I said yesterday, the art and value of communication, we will save a whole lot of hardship for the American people,” says Clyburn.