On this Juneteenth, we honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, knowing that it is now an official federal holiday. U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on the 17th of June. The holiday, celebrated on the 19th of June every year, commemorates the ending of slavery. It marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free from bondage, around two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. The communication was issued by U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and goes as follows. Notice, the latter part of this order shows that while the order freed the slaves, there would be a long journey to being viewed with equality and treated justly.
General Order No. 3 states:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
Juneteenth formally honors the sacrifice and actions of those who fought and continue to persevere on the quest for equality, and we can rejoice in these achievements. Last year at this time, the country was involved in widespread Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice after the death of George Floyd. The milestone of making Juneteenth a federal holiday and the fact that many corporations embrace the holiday and donate to causes that promote racial equity represents significant progress. Despite the increased awareness of injustice towards fellow Americans, there is still a lot of work.
This uncomfortable part of American history is something for which there is still much education to do. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963,
“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
Yet, inequity abounds, racial injustice continues, and progress is painfully gradual. Therefore, we must continue to shine a light upon this history to help guide us to a future that provides equality, equity, and justice for all Americans.
Check out these resources that can help you become a better ally when you commemorate Juneteenth:
- Educate yourself and learn about the historical legacy of Juneteenth
- Celebrate the day to spread awareness
- Patronize Black-owned businesses
- Donate your time and resources to support organizations that advance the cause of racial justice such as the Equal Justice Initiative or the Innocence Project
At Hanzo, we are a team of people who care for one another and for the respective communities in which we live. We believe that Black Lives Matter. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind nor unfair treatment to any person or group of people for any reason. We strive to educate ourselves on serving as an ally for marginalized groups and accelerating our diversity and inclusion efforts.