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The Importance of Juneteenth

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• Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom
About Slavery
Juneteenth World Wide Celebration
History of Juneteenth
The National Juneteenth Museum

Fun Stuff

• Juneteenth Greeting Cards

It seems like so long ago. The American Civil War ended in 1865. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved people in the Southern states back in 1863, but it took the end of the war to turn the words into law.

The end of slavery in America is still celebrated today, in the form of the Juneteenth celebration. The name comes from the melding of June and Nineteenth, or June 19th. This was the day that slavery ended in Galveston, Texas, in 1865. General Order Number 3 from General Gordon Granger said, in part:

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

And from the freed slaves of Galveston came the Juneteenth celebration. It is a joyous occasion, punctuated by great feasts and great gatherings of people. Celebrations take place all over the United States. (Click here to find your local celebration.)

But why is this holiday so important? Slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which was passed in 1865. African-Americans, under the law at least, are granted equal protection by the Fourteenth Amendment and an equal right to vote by the Fifteenth Amendment.

Why is Juneteenth so important? It gives African-Americans (and indeed everyone living in America) a sense of togetherness. You don't have to be African-American to join in celebrating the anniversary of the end of slavery. Slavery is a terrible thing. Many people of all skin colors fought tirelessly to end it, and their efforts should not go unnoticed. The end of slavery was the beginning of togetherness. Yes, it has come slowly and continues to come slowly. But it is coming.

By celebrating the Juneteenth holiday, you are celebrating a holiday just as important as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. For without the end of slavery, the great country now known as the United States of America would not have been possible.

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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