What is June 19? Inside the History and Meaning of the Holidays – NBC Chicago

Last year, the US government finally caught up with black people commemorating the end of slavery in the United States for generations with a day called “Juneteenth”.

President Joe Biden established June 19 National Independence Day as a federal holiday when he signed into law a bill passed by both houses of Congress.

The Senate approved the bill unanimously; only 14 House Republicans — many representing states that were part of the slave-holding Confederacy in the 19th century — opposed the measure.

What is this federal holiday, and what is its history? Here is an overview:

What is the story of Juneteenth?

The celebration began with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed Southern slaves in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the Civil War ended in 1865.

Laura Smalley, freed from a plantation near Bellville, Texas, recalled in a 1941 interview that her former master had gone to fight in the Civil War and returned home without telling his slaves what had happened. past.

“The old master didn’t say, you know, they were free,” Smalley said at the time. “I think they’re now saying they’ve worked them, six months later. Six months. And unleash them on June 19. That’s why, you know, we celebrate this day.

Union Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with news that the war was over and the slaves were now free. This was more than two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia.

Granger issued General Order No. 3, which read, “The people of Texas are informed that, pursuant to a proclamation of the Executive Branch of the United States, all slaves are free. This implies an absolute equality of personal rights and property rights between former masters and slaves, and the bond hitherto existing between them becomes that between employer and wage labor.

The following year, the Now Free began to celebrate Juneteenth in Galveston. Its observance has continued across the country and around the world ever since. Events include concerts, parades, and Emancipation Proclamation readings.

Why is it called “Juneteenth”?

The term Juneteenth is a mixture of the words June and nineteenth. The holiday has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day.

When did June 19 become a federal holiday?

The National Independence Day June 19 Law was enacted on June 17, 2021, two days before the June 16, 2021 holiday.

However, the vast majority of states have already recognized June 19 as a holiday or day of recognition, such as Flag Day, and most states are holding celebrations. For years, Juneteenth has been a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington, and hundreds of companies are giving workers the day off for Juneteenth.

When is June 16, 2022 and will federal employees have a day off?

This year, federal and private employers are giving workers the day off to observe the holiday on Monday, June 20, because June 19 falls on a Sunday.

Will markets and banks be closed for the holidays?

Yes, the Federal Reserve System and the New York Stock Exchange have added Juneteenth to their list of observed holidays and will be closed on Monday, June 20, as June 19 falls on a Sunday.

Since most financial institutions follow the Fed’s holiday schedule, the vast majority of banks are also expected to be closed on Monday.

The U.S. Postal Service will also be closed on June 20, as will all federal government buildings and offices.

How do you observe Juneteenth?

Early celebrations involved church picnics, family gatherings, and speeches.

Today, while many of these traditions remain, some major cities hold parades and festivals for the community.

June 19 marks the day in 1865 that the Emancipation Proclamation was brought to the slaves of Texas – more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued it. After Juneteenth became a federal holiday, more businesses got involved in promoting and celebrating it – although not all efforts were well received. Dartmouth history teacher Matthew Delmont joins LX News to discuss the respectful holiday celebration.

Why did Juneteenth become a federal holiday?

The national race reckoning helped set the stage for Juneteenth to become the first new federal holiday since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and had 60 co-sponsors. Bipartisan support has emerged as lawmakers struggle to overcome divisions still simmering after the police killing last year of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Supporters of the holiday have worked to ensure that June 19 celebrants don’t forget why the day exists.

“In 1776 the country was liberated from the British, but not all people were free,” Dee Evans, national communications director for the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, said in 2019. was actually when the people and the whole country was actually free.

There is also a sense of using this day to remember the sacrifices that have been made for freedom in the United States – especially in these days fraught with racism and politics. Says Para LaNell Agboga, museum site coordinator at the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center in Austin, Texas: “Our freedoms are fragile, and it doesn’t take much for things to roll back.”

Professor Wornie Reed describes his experiences during the historic 1963 March on Washington and explains why current social unrest makes June 19, 2020 unlike anything in recent memory.

NBC Chicago

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