Juneteenth 2021: Remembering the Past and Celebrating the Future
As the United States approached its third year of a bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. He declared that “All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
While the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it sparked a light within millions of African Americans that freedom was near. Now, the Union army would be fighting to end the institution of slavery in all rebellious states and areas.
Frederick Douglas, leader of the abolitionist movement and an escaped slave, was jubilant along with many Northern allies that the end of slavery was coming. Many African Americans in the North rushed to enlist after President Lincoln granted the federal army the right to accept them into its ranks. However, it wasn’t until two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued that the message of freedom would be given to all slaves.
On June 19th, 1865, just a month after the end of the Civil War, Union soldiers under Major Gen. Gordon Granger’s leadership reached Galveston, Texas, with news that the war was over and slavery was abolished. Under General Order No. 3, Granger announced that:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
Rejoicing cheers and cries echoed throughout the state of Texas as 250,000 enslaved people, the last in the United States, were finally liberated from their life of bondage. Now, they could leave the plantations, reunite with their families, and most importantly, be free.
Celebrating African American Freedom
Today, we commemorate June 19th as Juneteenth, the historic day that gave independence to the enslaved in the United States. It is a time for all of us to reflect and remember African Americans’ resilience, strength, and fight to be free and equal.
If you’re looking for how to celebrate Juneteenth 2021, there are many meaningful things you can do, including:
- Supporting black-owned businesses
- Amplifying and listening to black voices
- Advocating for Juneteenth to become a national holiday
- Finding Juneteenth events to attend in your city or town
- Hosting a small gathering to celebrate with friends and family
- Donating to organizations and charities that support black communities
Let this be a time to reflect on how far African Americans have come and serve as an opportunity to ensure liberty and justice remain and continue for all.
Join UZURI in recognizing this joyous Jubilee Day, and while you’re visiting, treat yourself to a soothing hand and foot Wellness Spa service to celebrate our shared history and freedom.