June 19, 2020

Juneteenth: a celebration of freedom for all Americans

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Vicker Selwynv2 2018webToday marks Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration to recognize and commemorate the day enslaved Texans found out they were free. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to read the federal order stating that all previously enslaved people were indeed free. The news came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Juneteenth is celebrated in 47 states with activities ranging from festivals and fairs to family reunions.

As we approach the 4th of July—our country’s celebration of freedom from the tyranny of British rule in 1776—let’s pause to reflect on and acknowledge that freedom for all Americans didn't occur until 89 years later when it was extended to all Black/African Americans. While COVID-19 has made it difficult for many to attend the various Juneteenth celebrations across the state, I’d like to encourage all of you to observe and celebrate this day by learning more about its significance and finding ways to support organizations that better the lives of Black/African Americans.