Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day. The name "Juneteenth" references the date of the holiday, combining the words "June" and "nineteenth."
"On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led the Union Soldiers to Galveston, TX, to announce the end of the war and the freedom of all enslaved people. This day went down in history as Juneteenth," freedom day," said Sgt. Maj. Amy Prince, of the 407th Army Field Support Battalion, "Juneteenth symbolizes justice and fair treatment for all. It is a time to reflect on its history and the growth of the nation. As an African American Sergeant Major in the Army, it shows how our military has and continues to adapt and overcome the plagues of the nation's history. Juneteenth is important to our ranks because it shows that we will all be treated with dignity and respect regardless of our race or background."
Not many people are familiar with Gen. Gordon Granger, but June 19, 1865, wouldn't be such an important day in African American history without him. It was on this day that the Union Army officer arrived in Galveston, Texas, with his fellow soldiers to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth has been celebrated as a holiday within the African-American community since 1866. The Emancipation Proclamation officially freed all enslaved people in the rebelling Southern states in 1863; however, some areas without the presence of the Union Army didn't enforce it. June 19, 1865, marks the day Granger, commanding the Union Army in Galveston, formally announced the order had been in effect for over three years in Texas, the last part of the defeated Confederacy to learn of the order and have it consistently enforced.
"Juneteenth symbolizes justice and fair treatment for all. It is a time to reflect on its history and the growth of our nation. As an African American Sergeant Major in the Army, it shows how our military has and continues to adapt and overcome the plagues of our nation's history. Juneteenth is important to our ranks because it shows that we will all be treated with dignity and respect regardless of our race or background," commented Prince.
On June 17, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed the bill into law, making Juneteenth the 11th holiday recognized by the federal government. According to the New York Times, at a White House ceremony, President Biden singled out Opal Lee, an activist who, at the age of 89, walked from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., and called her "a grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday."
" I think that the observation of Juneteenth emphasizes that, regardless of our differences, everyone deserves to be treated equally. This holiday reinforces that all people have the right to pursue happiness," said Master Sgt. Rebecca J. Walker, medical operations non-commissioned officer, 1st Infantry Division. "It's a day to remind ourselves to treat others with kindness and acceptance just as we want to be treated. It's another step in the movement to spread kindness everywhere, every day. If we all did this, what an amazing world we would live in!"
Before signing the bill into law, President Biden commented, "this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have had as President… it's an enormous, enormous honor."