“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama
This Monday, June 19, we commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth. The National Museum of African American History and Culture shares that “on June 19, 1865, nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas with news of freedom. More than 250,000 African Americans embraced freedom by executive decree in what became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. Freedom for these enslaved Texans was deferred. With the principles of self-determination, citizenship, and democracy magnifying their hopes and dreams, those Texans held fast to the promise of true liberty for all…. Juneteenth is a time to celebrate, gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future.” Until recently, Juneteenth was an overlooked part of America’s history. Thanks to the tireless efforts of changemaker, Opal Lee, the 96 year old school teacher, counselor, and activist, Juneteenth is now a federal holiday recognized nationally this year on Monday, June 20. Remembering and honoring Juneteenth reminds us of the power of community, history and the power a person can make. Learn more about Juneteenth and explore ways to honor this day in New York City and beyond in the resources below.