Juneteenth – June 19, 2023

“Every Black person you meet is a miracle… We are valuable because of our humanity and declared valuable because our ancestors declared our worth when they fought for us to live.” —Brittany Packnett

The King Council’s Equity and Social Justice Office wishes everyone a Happy Juneteenth!

Juneteenth gets its name from combining “June” and “Nineteenth” because on June 19, 1865, Gordon Granger, a Union General, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver a vital message: enslaved Black people were to be free! Granger read out General Order No.3 which informed residents that slavery would no longer be tolerated and that all slaves were now free. The message came two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, the war was over, and the union had won. This was more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

It was not until 2021 did President Biden sign a bill passed by Congress officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday. A day to celebrate freedom, of hope and healing as we continue to name and fight embedded systemic racism. It is also a day to remember the atrocities that were done—to acknowledge the horrors of slavery that this country actively committed.

For those in slavery who were free, some would later travel to Galveston annually to honor Juneteenth. This would continue, with festivities eventually taking place across the states. Now, events can be seen in the form of family celebrations, parades, musical performances, church services, and various public gatherings. Juneteenth has become a time to uplift and celebrate the spirit and strength of Black/African Americans. Our progress towards a more equitable future could not happen without the courage, accomplishments, and love of Black/African Americans. They have largely paved the way throughout our history as abolitionists, civil rights advocates, educators, and as everyday people. Our celebration of this monumental day recognizes all of those who were courageous that came before us. Juneteenth should remind us all of our continuous goal towards Black liberation.

“No one is free until we are all free.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What can you do to celebrate Juneteenth?

  • Attend a local community celebration!
  • Support Black businesses!
  • Donate to mutual aid funds and Black organizations!
  • Engage in your own anti-racist journey!

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