For centuries, the United States of America has celebrated the day of independence. When people think of the Fourth of July, they get excited about fireworks and BBQs, family gatherings and beach trips, days off of work and even holiday sales. They believe that this is the essence of being free – free to vacation, free to eat, free to travel, free to wear red, white, and blue.
But in the midst of these various ways to celebrate “freedom,” there was a heavy element missing – the actual fact of being free. In 1776, 13 colonies claimed their independence from England. But the daunting fact is that while colonies were free, many people were not. Black people were not free at all.
How is it possible to celebrate being free when freedom is laced in the confines of slavery? Is it fair to say that an area or a people are free, when their hands and feet are on the necks of those who are partially responsible for their thriving power? For this reason, we celebrate Juneteenth.
Juneteenth has been celebrated for almost 200 years by African American people. Known as the “Black Independence Day,” it is respected as the real day of freedom. June 19, 1865 is the commemoration of freed slaves in Texas. From that time until now, the sound and purpose of freedom has been widespread. Unfortunately, this day only became a federally acknowledged holiday in 2021. However, it has been honored and celebrated for well over 2 centuries.
Becoming a time to honor the proud culture of Black people, festivals and celebrations happen across the country – all in an effort to honor a beautiful group of people who have often been under celebrated and overlooked. And the purpose is never to diminish the cultures of others, but to proudly and loudly celebrate the contributions and culture of one.
Juneteenth should be treated like July Fourth
In 2021, President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday and a year later, there are still 26 states that have not authorized the funding that will allow for state employees to take off. It’s particularly important that former confederate states recognize Juneteenth, it’s time that this holiday is treated like July Fourth. This matters because many state employees across the country are not allowed to take a paid vacation day to observe the holiday.
In the private sector, Juneteenth will be a paid holiday for about 30% of private employers in the country this year, Axios’ Kelly Tyko reports.
Although many states fail to recognize and authorize this day off, many employers are taking action and treating it like a federal holiday. Allowing their employees to use this day to commemorate, gather and get educated on the history of slavery.
By the numbers: All 50 states either commemorate or observe Juneteenth but only 18 observe it as a permanent paid state holiday, those being Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
How can you bring more awareness to celebrating this Holiday even if you live in a state that doesn’t YET recognizes it?
How to celebrate: The new federal holiday should be viewed as more than another day off from work. Here are some ways he says people can recognize Juneteenth:
Learn the history around the holiday. This is a moment to be introspective and ask “Why were people still enslaved in 1865? Why didn’t they get the information in Galveston until two years later?”
Scholarships: give to historically Black colleges and universities.
DEI: Push your company on diversity, equity and inclusion policies. What are your companies’ plans?”
🎉 Celebrate: It’s important to recognize that for some people, this is a “moment of solace and mourning.” But still, people should get out in their communities, go to events and use this as an “opportunity to learn and hear.”
Now, getting educated on the history behind this tragic history not only America but the world experienced should go beyond just June 19th. If you are looking to continue to celebrate, educate and highlight a part of history that just two years ago was officially recognized visit our website notainclusion.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about some of our speakers that claim Juneteenth lives within them.