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Juneteenth: Our Independence

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There are two weeks left until America celebrates its independence from England but today is the celebration of African Americans freedom from America.

On this day — June 19, 1865 — the final remaining slaves were emancipated in the United States, two years after then president Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America.Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas when after Union General Gordon Granger and his troops emancipated the slaves.  Upon this act from Granger, the former slaves celebrated in the streets and the celebrations continued every year after.

Juneteeth by Avery Clayton ©2005

Juneteeth by Avery Clayton ©2005

Juneteenth is derived from a portmanteau of the words June and nineteenth.  And as of May of this year, 31 states — including D.C. — recognizes Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a state holiday observance.

States that recognize Emancipation Day are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,  Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan,  Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Traditions of Juneteenth are barbecues and retracing ancestry with singing of such songs as ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’


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