Juneteenth, the official freeing of enslaved people on June 19, 1866 in Texas is one of the most important events in American history, however many are not aware of this. Most students in school have not been taught about Juneteenth.
On June 18, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation recognizing and commemorating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Texas was the first state to commemorate Juneteenth as an official holiday in 1980. What was originally a holiday mainly observed by Texans has grown to be recognized all over the country.
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” in the Confederacy “are, and henceforth shall be free.” While this may have freed some enslaved people on paper, it did not free all slaves.
For instance, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed those slaves held under the Confederacy, not in bordering states loyal to the Union, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Delaware, where slavery was still legal after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union issued an order in Galveston, Texas, alerting all enslaved persons that they were legally free.
Juneteenth is viewed by many Black Americans as their day of independence. Early celebrations in Texas were known as “Emancipation Day” or Jubilee Day. It was only in the 1890s when the holiday became known as Juneteenth. Today people celebrate the holiday with picnics, parades and family gatherings. Juneteenth festivals, fairs and educational fairs are held.
Traditions and Foods of Juneteenth
Traditions for Juneteenth include: music, dancing and games like baseball, dominoes, bid whist and spades. Other celebrations include parades, parties and prayer. The traditional foods include barbeque beef, pork, chicken and fried fish. Common sides served are black-eyed peas, corn, cornbread, collard greens, cabbage, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes.
Red foods are the most prominent feature of the Juneteenth menu: red soda, punch, hibiscus tea, red velvet cake, red beans and rice, hot sauce, strawberries and watermelon.
Red foods are an important part of the Juneteenth celebration for the following reasons: *Remembrance of African ancestors lured with red cloth by slave trappers *Symbolism for the blood of enslaved ancestors *Red drinks were the traditional West African drinks made from ruby red hibiscus flowers and kola nuts