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.