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  • Nicola Moore

Juneteenth for Canadians - here's what to know

Updated: Jul 28


So I felt called to research and discuss with family members and friends this very topic and what it means to them in black history. Now I will now share with you;

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.


But what would freedom look like to someone who has spent 400 years generationally in slavery?! I mean your fathers father was a slave and that's all you know about life. You are told what to do constantly and you cannot read. And still I rise. Wow, when I look at the magic inside us I am astounded. We are such amazing, resilient people, but I digress...

So, Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, It has been created and celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s.


Last Wednesday, the American Democratic-led House of Representatives approved legislation to commemorate Juneteenth, the national remembrance of the end of chattel slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday. To sound 'newsy'; the 415-14 House vote follows Tuesday's unanimous approval in the Senate to federally recognize the holiday. All 14 no votes in the House came from Republicans (eye emoji). The bill now heads to President Biden's desk. The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

In my opinion, I feel like Americans are trying to make up for the nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others around the globe. It seemed to create a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom. The celebration continues to resonate in new ways, given the sweeping changes and widespread protests across the U.S. over the last year and following a guilty verdict in the killing of Mr. Floyd.

The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants - found on Juneteenth.com, which tracks celebrations. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.

Celebrations reached new heights in 1872 when a group of African-American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. The space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards where food is an integral element, some cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, like parades and festivals with residents, local businesses and more.

And because of the Pandemic, the celebrations in 2020 were largely subdued. Galveston has remained a busy site for Juneteenth events over the years and will continue to grow now that its a national holiday,

I'm glad all Americans get a holiday out of this day however, I feel like we still need to be emancipated. Happy Juneteenth.

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