Juneteenth 2012: Celebrate Freedom Festivities
Juneteenth is a holiday honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, is recognized as a state holiday in 41 states, and Maryland currently has legislation pending that could make it the 42nd state. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were then free.
There are many ways to celebrate Juneteenth. From an outdoor cookout with traditional foods to the modern day office conference room, Juneteenth can be celebrated in various settings. At the office, decorate a conference room, lobby or workspace with a Juneteenth theme to acknowledge the day's celebration. Bring the group together for refreshments and an explanation of Juneteenth.
An extended celebration could include artifacts, dance, skits, etc. The event should be celebratory, festive and in honor of African American history. Present co-workers with Juneteenth buttons, t-shirts, etc and encourage them to wear them the remainder of the day.
In the community, generally a committee of local business and community leaders is formed to plan a host of events. In many cities, tens of thousands turn out to participate. Parades, rodeos, races, Miss Juneteenth contests, barbecues are typical for an outdoor celebration. School essay and poster contests are excellent ways to get the youth involved. Local businesses and city government come onboard as sponsors to keep costs low (or free) for attendees to the events.
Host a community Juneteenth Flag Raising. Invite school bands, elected officials, business and civic leaders to participate. Encourage your libraries, post offices, city hall to host Juneteenth displays.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, will present a joint resolution next week that would designate June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day, said Tom Flanigan, her press secretary.
"By observing this day, our nation will honor the role that Juneteenth has played in African-American culture in Texas and throughout the country, and it will remind us that in America, we are all blessed to live in freedom," Hutchison stated in a prepared statement.