Michael Smith: Celebrate Juneteenth with education

Dancer Prescylia Mae of Houston performs during a dedication ceremony for the mural ‘Absolute Equality’ in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 2021.

Dancer Prescylia Mae of Houston performs during a dedication ceremony for the mural ‘Absolute Equality’ in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 2021.
Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP

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Congress approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday on June 17, 2021 commemorating the end of slavery. The House voted 415-14, and signed by President Joe Biden to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday.
June 19, 1865 the date that the last enslaved African-Americans learned of their emancipation. Much like Patriot's Day or Independence Day gatherings, observance of Juneteenth is an invitation to the community to commemorate a unique moment in American history and celebrate freedom. "This is not just history for African-Americans, this is something that others need to understand by appreciating different cultures.”
Juneteenth, also called Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day, marks the day when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, and informed the slaves that the Civil War was over, and they were liberated. The news reached the enslaved African-Americans 2.5 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued on Jan. 1, 1863, had freed the enslaved people in Texas and all the other Southern secessionist states of the Confederacy except for parts of states not in rebellion.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared an end to slavery in the Confederacy, it did not end slavery in states that remained in the Union. Those enslaved people were freed with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which abolished chattel slavery nationwide on Dec. 6, 1865.
Juneteenth celebrations date to 1866, at first involving church-centered community gatherings in Texas. They spread across the South and became more commercialized in the 1920s and 1930s, often centering on a food festival. Celebratory traditions often include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Some Juneteenth celebrations also include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties historical reenactments, and Miss Juneteenth contests. When Juneteenth became a federal holiday it was the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities has seen increasing mainstream attention in the United States. Next year, on June 19, 2023 we're looking to, host what could be an annual Northern Nevada Juneteenth Family Fun Festival in Carson City. More information on events, activities, and how to become a vendor, or sponsor will be announced. Until then Celebrate Juneteenth in your local community!
Although Juneteenth will coincide with Father's Day, also again in 2033, 2039, 2044, and 2050, it is my fervent hope that ALL citizens will not use this day as a day off, but a day on to learn about Juneteenth and its significance in American history. I would recommend a family visit Sunday, June 19 to the Nevada State Museum, located at 600 N. Carson St., in Carson City. The museum will offer free admission from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be an art exhibit, educational displays, and light refreshments from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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