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Juneteenth: The Importance of Celebrating Freedom and Equality

Posted by Terry Cole | Jun 19, 2024 | 0 Comments

Juneteenth is a federal holiday celebrated annually on June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. Juneteenth marks our county's second Independence Day. Although it has long been celebrated within the Black community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans. The difference between when slaves in this country were proclaimed to be free and when the last of the slaves were actually freed is in stark contrast.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the third year of the Civil War. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Despite this encompassing language, the Emancipation Proclamation's application was limited nationwide. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery on January 1, 1863, because it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control.

The Civil War ended in the summer of 1865. Freedom for all slaves was realized on June 19, 1865, when 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. Galveston Bay was in the westernmost Confederate part of Texas, which continued to enslave more than 250,000 black people. The Union Army announced that all the enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth” by the newly freed people in Texas.

Personal Injury Attorneys in Southern California understand the significance of this historic day and the ongoing fight for justice. Juneteenth has been celebrated under many names: Freedom Day, Cel-Liberation Day, Second Independence Day, and Emancipation Day. The period after Juneteenth is known as the “Scatter.” Undeterred by the recommendation to remain in place, many former slaves left Texas to find family members. During the Great Depression, 1929 – 1939, the celebration of Juneteenth declined because many black farming families were forced to move into urban areas to seek work, making it difficult to take the day off to celebrate. During the Civil Rights movement (1950s – 1960s), the celebration of Juneteenth was often overshadowed by the movement. However, Juneteenth regained its importance in 1968 when the Poor People's Campaign, originally led by Martin Luther King, Jr., held a Juneteenth Solidarity Day.

On June 17, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth has become a day to honor my ancestors, recognize their sacrifices, and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans to the nation. The holiday is marked by a variety of activities, such as concerts, parades, historical reenactments, educational events, and social gatherings, fostering a sense of community, unity, and pride.

At Dordick Law, a leading firm of Personal Injury Attorneys in Southern California, we acknowledge and promote Juneteenth's importance in educating and raising awareness about the history of slavery in this country, the struggles endured by African Americans, the ongoing fight against systemic racism, and the significance of learning history. Juneteenth empowers individuals to engage in conversations, advocate for equality, and work towards creating a more just society.

By understanding and commemorating Juneteenth, Personal Injury Attorneys in Southern California, like those at Dordick Law, continue to fight for the rights and justice of individuals within the community, reflecting the holiday's spirit of freedom and equality.

About the Author

Terry Cole

Associate Attorney | Terry Cole

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