Written by: Chestiny Fair, MS, Bryan University Faculty and IDEA Committee Member
Juneteenth is the day recognized in the United States when enslaved people were freed. Although enslaved African Americans were granted freedom and full emancipation in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, freedom for many did not happen overnight. Some African Americans were still enslaved and continued to be used as free labor after emancipation. However, the news soon traveled to other states and these enslaved workers were eventually given their freedom.
The hardship that they faced not only exemplifies survival instincts and courageous persistence in the face of extreme difficulty, but also the ways in which communities can come together to empower and embrace each other through hope, unity, and determination.
Juneteenth has been a celebration for African Americans since the 1800s but wasn’t officially designated as a federal holiday in the U.S. until 2021. Currently, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states. Juneteenth is celebrated as another “National Independence Day” and is also referred to as Jubilee Day.
This “Emancipation Day” is a time to celebrate with family and to acknowledge the heritage, liberation, freedom, and progress that has been made since 1865 and recognize that systemic racism persists. In addition to public awareness campaigns sponsored by governments, observance of this holiday has been done through various events such as barbecues, family outings, community events and celebrations, and sporting events.
We encourage all to take the time to express gratitude for and reflect on African American freedom, contributions, and the achievements of the African American communities.