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Juneteenth: A Celebration of Racial Justice

We all know about the Fourth of July, but where’s the love for Juneteenth? Celebrated every year on June 19th, the lesser-known holiday commemorates the final abolition of slavery in every part of the former Confederacy.

What is Juneteenth All About?

While history books credit Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation for ending slavery, that’s not the whole story. A large number of Black people remained stuck in bondage, particularly in remote parts of Texas.

This didn’t change until two whole years later, on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas with the announcement about emancipation. On that day, over 250,000 enslaved Black people learned of their official freedom for the first time.

Of course, 1865 wasn’t the end of institutionalized racism—far from it. There has been, and continues to be, intense backlash against Black freedom by white people. Yet, Juneteenth has persisted as an annual reminder of resilience and hope for a better future.

Why Should We Still Celebrate Juneteenth?

Between the tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black communities, the role white supremacy still plays in our laws, systems, and culture is abundantly clear.

Juneteenth is one opportunity for our country to reflect on racial justice—the progress we have made, and the important work remaining to be done. In fact, there is a growing push for the commemoration to be more formally recognized, much like the Fourth of July, as a national holiday and paid day off.

Anti-Racist Changemakers

For 28 years, Public Allies has worked to dismantle systems of inequity, racism, and oppression in our country by helping young people—mostly of color and many of them Black—find their voice and step into their leadership. Join us.

In order to allow our staff to honor, commemorate, and celebrate Juneteenth, the day is recognized as an official business holiday by Public Allies.

Public Allies