What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom. Now, 155 years later, people in cities and towns across the U.S. continue to mark the occasion with parades, picnics, family gatherings and other celebrations.
Why Celebrate Juneteenth?
For many Juneteenth is a day of reflection and rejoicing. It is a time to see how far the black community has come and just how far we have to go.
Some may ask, why not celebrate it in September, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed? Unfortunately, many slaves were not informed President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation freeing them from slavery in 1863. But on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger, along with two thousand soldiers of the 13th Army Corps, marched through Galveston, TX, reading General Order, No. 3, which stated:
“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
The ending of slavery was monumental in the black community. It changed the course of their lives from education to employment for generations to come.
Today, state governments and companies are beginning to recognize the importance of Juneteenth for the black community. Twitter and Nike have announced Juneteenth will be an official company holiday, and the state of New York and the Commonwealth of Virginia are currently advancing legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
How Can Scouts Celebrate Juneteenth?
Scouts and Scouters can celebrate by learning the history behind Juneteenth. Good activities for a unit could include:
Did your unit celebrate Juneteenth? Let us know what you did! Submit your stories to weownadventure.com/submit!