A white background with green, yellow and red confetti portraying various drawings of black people dancing and celebrating , with the words ‘Happy Juneteenth’ across the picture.

Why Juneteenth is Important

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

While growing up, I never knew entirely what June 19 was. I knew it was something like the Fourth of July, but for some reason whenever I would attend Juneteenth parades, barbecues and any celebrations on that day, it only consisted of people who looked like me, black people.

When I was a child, I asked my grandmother what exactly Juneteenth was and her answer was, “it is a celebration for us; for all of us to be together.” That was my explanation of Juneteenth until I was old enough to learn it myself.

Years went by celebrating the same holiday, going to the annual parade and get-togethers. It was not until my freshman year of high school when I learned what exactly June 19 was.

On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas learned that they were all legally freed. Texas slaves were the last to be informed of their freedom in the United States, two years after Abraham Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth later became a continued celebration a year when the slaves, who were now freemen, would gather and honor the day. The Juneteenth celebration has been passed on for generations and has become a national holiday for Black people.

When I learned this during my freshman year of high school, I quickly commented on how my family attended the town’s parade every year for the holiday, but I was only met with stares from my white peers.

I didn’t only learn what Juneteenth was that day, but I also learned that black people are the only people that go out of their way to celebrate the day.

I have always known what the Fourth of July was and have been taught the history behind it for years. I knew of Memorial Day and Veterans day both being national holidays; however, for some reason, June 19 was only taught to me once in all the years I attended secondary school.

Furthermore, when it was taught to me it was never mentioned how millions of black people celebrate it today but was only described as a day slaves were freed.

I grew up watching my family and my fellow black community celebrate June 19. We honored our ancestors and turned all of the pain our race has gone through into a day to celebrate by coming together and reminding ourselves we can continue to make it.

Juneteenth is important. I, as a black woman, know that because it is my history, but for people of other races, it possibly is just another date in a history class they have to remember for a test.

It wasn’t even until this year that Texas Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill to make Juneteenth a national federal holiday.

Juneteenth shouldn’t only be a Texas holiday but a national holiday to remember all the pain black citizens went through for this country and allow those who try to forget that, to be reminded of it.

Juneteenth is a holiday I was raised celebrating and I’m happy that more people of other racial backgrounds are starting to recognize that it deserves to be commemorated.

Featured image by Timia Cobb via Canva.

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