June 19 is now officially Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The name “Juneteenth” is a blend of two words: “June” and “nineteenth.” Juneteenth honors the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States and is believed to be the oldest African-American holiday, with annual celebrations on June 19th in different parts of the country dating back to 1866.
The Importance of Juneteenth
Juneteenth—June 19, 1865—was the day Union soldiers enforced President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas. Americans can use Juneteenth as a way to acknowledge past faults, heal current divisions, and move toward a future as a nation more united.
Who was the main person that pushed for Juneteenth?
Affectionately know as the grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee, 94, was a driving force behind Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday. A former teacher and lifelong activist, Lee walked from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to the nation's capital in an effort to get Juneteenth named a national holiday and, after many years, was triumphant!