Juneteenth is a historic celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and is celebrated annually on June 19. Also known as “Freedom Day” or Emancipation Day” it is recognized as the day the last slaves in America were set free. The celebration is already recognized in 41 states as an official holiday, and now several citizens are petitioning to have Juneteenth legalized as a national unpaid holiday.
On June 19, 1865, or “Juneteenth,” Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery in the United States, where many were still enslaved. This revelation, came two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862. The proclamation went into effect Jan. 1, 1863 and was not honored by the confederate states.
Juneteenth festivities often focus on growth and self- improvem ent. Festivities include baseball, barbeque, fishing, rodeos and prayer services. Guest speakers are often invited to Juneteenth celebrations to recount its history and legacy.
This year’s activities in Savannah will include a Juneteenth celebration to be held on June 23, 2012 at Wells Park, (Montgomery and 38th St). The event is presented by The Daughters of Mary Magdalene featuring guest speaker Dr. Deborah Fonteneau from 10am-6p.m. The celebration will honor mayor Edna Jackson. For more info call 912-428-4638 or 912-352-2561.
The Telfair museum will hold its annual Juneteenth Celebration June 21-23, 2012 which will include demonstrations by local artists. Author Beverly Jenkins, writer of African- American historical romance fiction and specialist in 19th century African American life, will give a lecture at Second African Baptist Church on June 21 at 7 p.m. There will also be a perform- ance by David Pleasant at the Jepson Center on June 22 at 6 p.m. “A Gullah- Geechee Juneteenth” on June 23 from 12-3p.m. will close out the annual celebration at the Jepson Center. Events are free. In June 2011, Georgia became the 37th state to honor Juneteenth as a holiday. However, there remains a constant push to have Juneteenth labeled a national unpaid holiday. You can read more about making Juneteenth a national holiday and sign the petition here:change.org/petitions/juneteenth national-holiday-observance