President Biden has signed into a law a bill that would create a new federal holiday celebrating Juneteenth. Many are unfamiliar with the history behind this holiday, long celebrated in Texas and among Black communities. Juneteenth commemorates not only the end of slavery, but more uniquely celebrates the day that enslaved persons in Galveston Texas learned of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation – a full two and a half years after the end of the Civil War.
Celebrating Juneteenth celebrates the resilience of enslaved people, it allows us to reflect on the fragility of freedom, and provides a moment for us to reflect deeply on our shared history and values. Many municipalities will mark the holiday by raising the Juneteenth flag, which in and of itself is rife with symbolism. The star in the center represents Texas, while the starburst represents the birth of a star, a nova, to symbolize the promise of a new beginning for the Black community. Lastly the arc represents a new horizon for Black people.
This Juneteenth, we encourage you to take a moment to learn more about historical events with significance to the black community, including the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watch Night, and other significant moments in Black history.
Juneteenth is also a wonderful time to support Black owned businesses, read books and movies about the Black experience, and donate to causes and organizations that focus on supporting the Black Community.
- UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has assembled articles, videos, podcasts and websites that explain the history of the holiday.
- The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center is hosting a hybrid celebration throughout the weekend.
- The Orange County African American Historical Society and Montpelier are hosting a suite of events throughout weekend.