Saving History Saturday: A New Federal Holiday

This is an angle of “saving history” that I don’t think we’ve covered in this blog column before… In case you haven’t seen the news, as of Thursday, June 17, 2021, the United States has a new federal holiday: Juneteenth. Celebrated on June 19, this holiday has roots in Civil War history and commemorates the day—June 19, 1865—when enslaved families in Texas learned that they were free. Community celebrations of this event started in Galveston, Texas, in 1866.

Juneteenth celebrates emancipation and African American culture and has been observed in various ways through the decades. Some of the traditional local commemorations have included reading the Emancipation Proclamation, historical and cultural displays or performances, and family gatherings.

One of the exciting things about the official recognition and creation of this holiday is the opportunity to talk about emancipation, abolition, and the Civil War. Here are a few resources from previous years on the ECW blog, and there are many other wonderful programs, videos, and learning opportunities at museums and other blogs and archives! I hope you’ll be inspired to dig into the history of this new holiday. By creating a federal holiday, a piece of history has been saved and highlighted in an important way.

The Significance of June 19 in the Civil War Era—and Beyond

ECW Weekender: Juneteenth – Celebrating Freedom

Granger’s Juneteenth Orders and the Limiting of Freedom

Book Review: On Juneteenth

2 Responses to Saving History Saturday: A New Federal Holiday

  1. Juneteenth is commendable in its premise: to celebrate the end of slavery in America. However, it suffers two fatal flaws: failure to fully acknowledge the Civil War and involvement of Americans of ALL colors and backgrounds that struggled to bring the odious practice of Slavery to an end; and the lack of recognition that slavery did not really end in 1865. It changed its name to COOLIE Labor and continued “out of sight, out of mind” out West, in mines and on railroad lines. After the Chinese laborers were mostly returned to the Orient, THAT odious chapter of History seemed to have resolved itself, without need for serious discussion… only to re-emerge as “sharecropping” and “black-birding” …and most recently as “live-in servants” for the upwardly mobile along the Boston -to- Washington D.C. corridor.
    Celebrate Juneteenth appropriately and end slavery – make the practice illegal, whatever the clever label – once and for all.
    Mike Maxwell

  2. Slavery in the US had a much longer history then the abuse towards Orientals….1617 vs the 1850s.

    I’ll agree that all slavery is odious. And I’ll agree that any form of prejudice towards any immigrant, is un-American.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!

%d bloggers like this: