Juneteenth, which is celebrated annually, is an important holiday in the Black community. The day has become the most prominent Emancipation Day holiday in the United States and commemorates the moment when emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy on June 19, 1865. It is a holiday meant for celebration rather than mourning and remembrance.
Juneteenth is not just a Black holiday. It is an American holiday. The day signals America finally realizing our founding principles of "liberty and justice for all." Slavery is a dark stain on US history, but Juneteenth is an example that America can move past the transgressions of history in the pursuit of a freer society.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. In 2021 Juneteenth was made a federal holiday. The day is also celebrated outside the United States, being used by organizations in a number of countries to recognize the end of slavery and to honor the culture and achievements of African Americans.
The word is a combination of the month of June and the 19th, the exact day when Major General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas with 7000 "colored troops" and read General Order Number 3 announcing the end of the Civil War and Slavery. The war had actually ended two months earlier, and the slaves in the region had actually been freed 2.5 years earlier, but their slave masters had NOT set them free. After reading the order, it was posted on the door of Reedy Chapter AME Church in Galveston.
JUNETEENTH: BLACK PRIDE OR PERIL?
JUNE 3, 2022
Invite a Friend or Colleague to this two-hour event. It will be worth every minute as you hear from subject-matter experts on issues impacting the Black community AND Beyond!
Register and Join Us for This Free Live Webinar And Learn More About The Legacy of Juneteenth As We Wrestle With The 2nd Anniversary of George Floyd's Death & Now The Tragedy of The Buffalo Massacre
The event is a multigenerational, multimedia virtual program designed to inspire and engage each attendee to understand why Juneteenth is considered the second Independence Day in American History.
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For me, last year’s Juneteenth Celebration at Franklin Park here in Boston was the best. A city park filled with happy black friends, colleagues, and families all enjoying the moment of good weather, good friends, and definitely good barbecue. This annual celebration took place every third Saturday in June from early morning where you staked out your location till the evening when the charcoal embers smolder from the sizzle of the grill.
So Much Fun In Franklin Park
In addition to the families who turned out in the 2019 sunshine, many local, state, and national organizations proudly set up tables, stands, and entire corners of the park to display their emblems, symbols, logos, and signage in full recognition of Juneteenth’s real meaning…freedom for all in a joyous celebration. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, founded 107 years ago on the campus of Howard University. I am from a family of Deltas, including my sister in law, an older daughter, cousin, and my late mother. Last Juneteenth, I hung out with my Delta sisters, who proudly pitched a red and white tent at the Franklin Park celebration. And we were not alone! We were surrounded by the other black sororities and fraternities, including Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, Iota Phi Theta.
Those were just the black Greek-letter organizations present at last year’s Juneteenth Celebration. We were also joined by the NAACP, Urban League, Nation of Islam, various church groups, political campaigns, and healthcare advocacy organizations. I invited two of my clients to attend so that they could see the black community's interconnection in a unified celebration of harmony and happiness. My clients saw how they could proactively build a relationship with multiple groups and constituencies within an arm’s reach of their headquarters.
There were no speeches, no planned programs, no political debate. Just plain ol’ fun, with soul, hip hop, R&B, dance musicand the electric slide blasting everywhere.
It was beautiful. It was Juneteenth 2019.
An Alternative To June 19, 1997
And it was a soothing way for me to block out June 19, 1997 the date I buried my 17-year-old son who had died in a single-occupant car crash that year days after graduating from high school.
Now I think of Juneteenth differently this year, where social distancing and an angry virus have robbed residents and citizens around the country from holding picnics or parades in commemoration of Juneteenth. We know this year there are large gatherings of peaceful protesters marching to restore dignity and safety in the black community following the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, D. J. Henry, Sandra Bland and far too many more. And we also know that Black Lives Matter is not just a catchy slogan by progressive liberals. It’s become a new “call to action” mounted on signs and placards and held by black, white brown, Asian, Arab, English, French, Kenyan, Brazilian, and Jamaican faces all over the world!
History of Juneteenth
The historic proclamation announced on a balcony by Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 that ALL slaves throughout America were free. The announcement was made in Galveston, Texas, because selfish white Texas plantation owners kept their slaves in bondage long after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. They even held onto their slaves after the last Civil War shot was fired in April 1865. So you can only imagine how astonished those ex-slaves were in Galveston tasting freedom for the first time, nearly 2.5 years after the fact.
It’s that historical reality that has made Juneteenth such a festive celebration throughout the country. Clearly there are other “black holidays and traditions” that have more recognition than Juneteenth. It’s just this year, with the triple pandemic - (1) COVID-19, (2) the teetering economic, and(3) racial strife, Juneteenth came center stage when a racist president picked June 19th to hold his “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The voices of protest pushed back, causing the autocrat to move his political mob scene to the next day, June 20th.
Only the Appetizer
The bottom line is go on and celebrate Juneteenth. Make it a national holiday, take the day off from work, and hold countless socially distanced picnics and discussion in its honor. But don’t make it an end-all. It’s the appetizer in a full course meal that hasn’t even been cooked yet. That seven-course meal must include many more intentional initiatives, policy actions, police lobotomies, and economic course correctors if this country is going to really set sail in a new direction.
So enjoy Juneteenth. But make sure you save room for the remaining six courses that will really take us somewhere into a future guaranteeing justice, economic access, and freedom for all.
My world changed in 1997 when my 17 year old son was tragically killed in a single occupant car crash. Six days after graduating from Milton High School on June 14, 1997. It's the reason why I started Student Safety Month in 1998.
It is my intent to provide you with enough information to make this month a meaningful opportunity for promoting student safety within your organization or community. Let me first say that the free information kit that you can download is designed to BEGIN your safety activities, or provide you with a springboard to ENHANCE the safety initiative you already have in place. The suggested activities can be launched during the summer months or throughout the rest of the year.
I hope that this information kit will help you with your student safety initiative. Consider the categories and statistics for any bulletin boards you may create during the month. Include current event topics as a launching pad for lunch time or classroom discussions. Incorporate the concept in everything that you do at home, school or at work. Spread the word about Student Safety Month. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a live presentation, please call me at (508) 947-5755.
Color Blind or Color Brave on Juneteenth 2014: On The Road To Real Racial Equality with Bill Wells, Jr.Read Now
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On this day June 19, 1865, emancipation was finally granted to the remaining slaves in the rebellious state of Texas. Two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the confederate states, the hold out White plantation owners grudgingly and reluctantly gave in to the pressures of the US government, but held onto the racial hatred embedded in their hearts.
Fast forward to 2006, a short eight years ago, when Black financial tycoon, Mellody Hobson, was mistaken for kitchen help while in New York City on a campaign fundraising trip for Harold Ford. The manager who made that awful blunder needed to clean out the cobwebs and realize that Black people have significantly advanced since the rough-shod days of our Civil War past.
Mellody recently created a TED Talk about her experience, urging her audience to move from being color blind to becoming color brave. We’ll talk about this lingering issue with veteran consultant and former Chair of the National Black MBA Association Bill Wells, Jr.
It’s an American issue that simply won’t go away.
About Juneteenth Day
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
About Mellody Hobson
Mellody Hobson is responsible for firm-wide management and strategic planning, overseeing all operations outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust. Beyond her work at Ariel, Mellody has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News. She also contributes weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a column for Black Enterprise magazine. As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study: 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities.
Mellody is chairman of the board for DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. as well as a director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Starbucks Corporation. Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high quality, out-of-school time programs. Furthermore, she is a board member of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, The Chicago Public Education Fund, Sundance Institute and is on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. Mellody earned her AB degree from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She also received honorary doctorate degrees in humanities from both Howard University and St. Mary’s College.
In 2013 Hobson married her longtime boyfriend filmmaker George Lucas and is the mother of one child.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.