On June 19th, Americans will celebrate Juneteenth – a federal holiday to recognize people of color and the day that slavery was officially made illegal in the United States. The first Juneteenth occurrence was on June 19th, 1866.  It was not made a federal holiday until 2021. This holiday was made possible by the ratification of the thirteenth amendment on December 6, 1865 – which abolished slavery in all parts of America.

Juneteenth is a very special holiday because people of color were oppressed and used for forced labor for more than 50 years in the United States. This holiday gives them an opportunity to come together and celebrate their freedom.

Some people celebrate this day by going to parades, eating barbecue, shooting fireworks, gathering for a cookout and sipping on red drinks – a tradition that symbolizes perseverance and honors the blood, sweat, and tears shed by African Americans and people of color.

“Juneteenth represents a true acceptance of blacks into the American fabric. It is grossly sad that some two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks in Texas were still unaware of something that should have made them equal according to the Declaration of Independence. Some people frown upon June 19 being recognized as a national holiday. However, had all people been treated fairly from the onset, this would not have been necessary. Some African Americans question the motive behind the recent signing of this day into a holiday by Congress. Was this a distraction from the restrictive voting laws being created to make it exceedingly difficult to vote? The verdict is still out.” – Barbara Hall

Despite the fact that most people of color now have their freedom, many are still being oppressed. This day celebrates the ongoing road to end oppression. Juneteenth can also be a day to celebrate all types of backgrounds, ethnicities, and races. Remember that equality still exists and everyone has a role to play! Treat others with kindness regardless of who they are or where they came from.