Today is a significant and historic Federal holiday commemorating enslaved African Americans’ emancipation in the United States. Juneteenth holds great cultural, historical, and symbolic importance for African Americans and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. Below are five reasons why this day is so important:
- Emancipation of Enslaved African Americans: On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced General Order No. 3, which proclaimed the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the state. This announcement occurred more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth represents when the news of freedom finally reached the last enslaved individuals in the United States.
- Commemoration of Freedom: Juneteenth serves as a celebration of freedom, marking the end of slavery and the beginning of a new era for African Americans. It recognizes the African American community’s resilience, strength, and perseverance in the face of oppression and marks a significant milestone in the struggle for civil rights and equality.
- Cultural and Community Celebration: Juneteenth is a time for African Americans to celebrate their heritage, culture, and achievements. It is a day of reflection, education, and remembrance, where communities come together to honor their ancestors, share stories, and pass down traditions to future generations. It is often marked with parades, family gatherings, picnics, music, dancing, and other festivities that highlight African American culture.
- Acknowledgment of Ongoing Struggles: Juneteenth serves as a reminder that while slavery formally ended, the fight for equality and justice continues. It recognizes the systemic injustices, racial inequalities, and ongoing challenges African Americans face in education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and voting rights. Juneteenth calls for reflection on the progress made and the work that still needs to be done to achieve true equality for all.
- National Recognition and Awareness: The significance of Juneteenth has gained wider recognition and awareness in recent years. In 2021, Juneteenth was designated as a federal holiday in the United States, officially recognizing its importance and providing an opportunity for the nation to reflect on its history and promote unity.
Juneteenth holds profound significance as a day commemorating freedom, celebrates African American culture and achievements, acknowledges ongoing struggles for equality, and serves as a reminder of the collective journey towards a more just and inclusive society.
A Juneteenth finale celebration was held this past weekend. This event was a collaboration between The African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County (TAACC), the NJ Legislative District 15 (Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson, and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli), the Mercer County Park Commission, and Outdoor Equity Alliance. Together, the organizers worked tirelessly to plan an event that was not only fun but spoke to the heart of the wants and needs of the community.
TAACC seeks to “Educate, Empower, and Unite Africans in the diaspora through cultural arts, health and wellness, entertainment, and sports through this and another impactful programming.” During this year’s Juneteenth celebrations, the Collaborative highlighted the current issues and conversations of the community through displays of culture, collaboration, commerce, unity, and education.