America: What is Juneteenth and why is it celebrated?

source: photo VOA

US President Joe Biden has said about Juneteenth, a federal holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery in America, that it will breathe new life into American life.


President Biden said this on the occasion of hosting a big music concert on the South Lawn of the White House this week to celebrate the new US federal holiday Juneteenth.

“For me, June Tenth is not just a symbol,” President Biden said. It was not only concerned with the Union, but primarily with America and freedom.

US Vice President Kamala Harris said on the occasion that Juneteenth is an opportunity to honor the culture and community of black people.

This year, the Juneteenth ceremony at the White House was also marked as a celebration of Black Music Month.

It featured artists such as Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and talk show host Jennifer Hudson.

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On this occasion, among those who approved the Juneteenth holiday, Opal, who is known as Juneteenth Mother, was also invited.

America: What is Juneteenth and why is it celebrated?
Photo: VOA


 How did Juneteenth begin?

The word Juneteenth is a combination of June and 19. This official holiday celebrated on June 19 was officially included in the American calendar during the current term of office of President Biden.

It is also known as ‘June Tenth Independence Day’, Freedom Day, Second Independence Day or African American Fourth of July.

Although America gained its independence from Great Britain in 1776, all enslaved people here had to wait nearly a century more to be freed from their masters.

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Former US President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but it was implemented in many parts of the South in 1865 at the end of the country’s Civil War.

Texas was the state where black slaves finally found their freedom from their masters.

It was on June 19, 1865, when American Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and delivered an order to inform the people of Texas that all slaves were free.

In it personal rights and property rights are absolutely equal between former masters and slaves. The relationship between them has now become that of an employer and a wage worker.

Photo: AP

Evans, National Director of Communications of the National June Tenth Observance Foundation, said in 2019 that in 1776, the United States gained independence from Great Britain, but not all the people of this country were free. June 19, 1865 was the day when all the people and the entire country of America actually became free.

The following year, freed slaves in Galveston, Texas began celebrating June 19 as a festival that included concerts, parades, ceremonies, and the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Then the series of these events spread across the country and eventually across the world.


When did Juneteenth become a federal holiday?

Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth for generations as a celebration of the end of a dark chapter in black history, but the Biden administration will officially make the day a federal holiday in 2021, more than a century and a half later. recognized as such when President Biden signed a bill passed by Congress.

America: What is Juneteenth and why is it celebrated?
Photo: AP

Why did Juneteenth become a federal holiday?

The public movement that began after the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, a black man, played a major role in making the day a federal holiday.

Much of the credit for the push to make June 10th a federal holiday goes to Opal Lee, a former teacher and activist who started the campaign to make June 10th a federal holiday in 2016 at the age of 89 in her hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas in the form of a walking rally wearing tennis shoes.

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Then they reached Washington DC through other cities and were joined by other celebrities and politicians and the support for their demand continued to increase.

The bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was introduced by Democratic Senator Edward Murky of Massachusetts and received bipartisan support.

President Biden finally signed it into law. Opal Lee was among those standing with President Biden as he signed the bill into law on Juneteenth.


The New Journey of Juneteenth

The abolitionist movement in America, which has made Juneteenth a federal holiday, is now moving towards the next destination of its journey.

The day is now being used as an opportunity to highlight community service projects that address issues of racial discrimination, health care inequities, and the need for parks and green spaces.

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 Commercial enterprises also play their part in making every holiday and every occasion festive in America.

Similarly, June 10th T-shirts, party dresses and other items are being sold in museums and other public places on this holiday.

However, proponents of this holiday are also working to ensure that those who celebrate June Teenth do not forget the true purpose of celebrating this day.


This report incorporates material from The Voice of America.




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