By AFRO Staff
The “Juneteenth” celebration marks the date (June 19) in 1865, when enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas were told they were free. They were the last community of enslaved people to be informed of their liberation, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. For more than a century and a half Black communities have celebrated the occasion with various festivities including parades, cookouts, fireworks, beauty pageants, house parties and other activities to acknowledge a seminal moment in Black American history. In recent years, Juneteenth has garnered national recognition and celebrations in wider American communities and national recognition.
In Texas, the day has been observed as a state holiday for 40 years but it is not recognized or celebrated on a national level. With this year’s Juneteenth a few days away, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Senators John Cornyn (D-Texas) and Edward Markey (D-Mass) are revisiting the issue.
There have been many conversations among lawmakers about officially making Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday, but last year the group introduced legislation around the matter. Although there wasn’t much movement on the bill, even with almost 100 supporters, that legislation is now being reintroduced.