Juneteenth: A holiday celebrating today (June 19th) in 1865. A day when all enslaved Black people gained their freedom from bondage.

Celebrations have typically included parades, barbecues, concerts, and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation. However, in 2020, faced with the economic uncertainty that came with the Pandemic and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth this year is a day to let your voice be heard. For many Americans who are not part of the black community, recent protests over police brutality have driven awareness on the importance of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth celebrations this year will be marked with marches and demonstrations, not forgetting our ever vibrant expressions of black joy; in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation. Just like the nationwide protests that followed the recent deaths of black men and women, the Juneteenth celebrations are likely to be more multiracial.

“This is one of the first times since the ’60s, where the global demand, the intergenerational demand, the multiracial demand is for systemic change.” Noliwe Rooks – A Cornell University professor, continued; “there is some understanding and acknowledgment at this point that there’s something in the DNA of the country that has to be undone.”

Statue depicts a man holding the state law that made Juneteenth a state holiday in Galveston, Texas. The inscription on the statue reads “On June 19, 1865, at the close of the Civil War, U.S. Army General Gordon Granger issued an order in Galveston stating that the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was in effect. That event, later known as “Juneteenth,” marked the end of slavery in Texas. Celebrated as a day of freedom since then, Juneteenth grew into an international commemoration and in 1979 became an official Texas holiday through the efforts of State Representative Albert (AL) Edwards of Houston.”

A holiday in some major cities in America, it is a time of reflection. It’s a time for the Black community to take pride in what they and their ancestors have overcome. “So Juneteenth is a celebratory event but we’re not celebrating the country. We’re celebrating our own freedom and our own ability to be liberated and the resiliency of black people”; Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown says. Brown believes this is shaping up to be a politically defining moment ahead of the November elections.

We are not there yet, but we’ll keep fighting. Today was a day of joy and pain; now its a day for national action.

Will you take action?