Monday, June 16, 2008

Celebrate Juneteenth!

It's official--Juneteenth is now a state holiday to be celebrated annually on the third Saturday of June. It commemorates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. Vermont became the 29th state to recognize this significant holiday last Tuesday.

The Emancipation proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863, though it had little effect on the lives of the slaves it was meant to free. In particular, Texas remained in control by Confederates, and its government refused to recognize the proclamation. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger, accompanied by federal troops, entered Texas, took over, and enforced emancipation. Juneteenth, a combination of June and nineteenth, was first celebrated in Texas to mark this event a year later. Eventually, people of the southern states joined in on the annual commemoration. Now, much of the U.S. celebrates Juneteenth.

You can find out more about this holiday by reading the book Juneteenth: a Day to Celebrate Freedom From Slavery by Angela Leeper or by checking out these websites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/JJ/lkj1.html
http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/ethnic_relig/juneteenth.html

Vermont's first official Juneteenth will be held this Saturday, June 21. Celebrate this event like they do in Texas--with a backyard barbecue and ice cream.