Black ExperienceBlack History

Juneteenth Celebrations to Focus on Black Liberation, Justice, Voter Registration

More than 150 cities across the country, including D.C., are expected on Wednesday to participate in the annual Juneteenth celebrations.

Parades, concerts, and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation will be featured this year along with the first congressional hearing in more than a decade on reparations for slavery. The celebration in D.C. will also include a “My Vote My Freedom: Juneteenth Voter Education” drive from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Congress Heights Recreation Center in Southeast.

Juneteenth, known as the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery, began June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until 1865 after the end of the Civil War.

At that time, General Orders, Numbers 3, headquartered in the District of Galveston, stated that “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

A resolution recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday passed the Senate last year, but the accompanying resolution has yet to be approved in the House.

So far, 46 states and D.C. recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of recognition, and countries such as South Korea, Ghana, Israel, Taiwan, France and the U.S. territory of Guam have held or now hold Juneteenth celebrations.

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