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Juneteenth Makes Waves to Becoming a Federal Holiday

Vitalii Abakumov/iStock

Juneteeth is known as the “Independence day for Black people” and yet black people hardly know about it. Now things are beginning to change as blacks are not only recognizing the holiday but states and companies too.

Juneteenth is an African American holiday celebrated on June 19th. Contrary to popular belief the Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1st, 1863 did not result in the immediate freeing of slaves. However, two years later on June 19th, 1865 Gordan Granger read out the proclamation to slaves in Galveston Texas allowing the last slaves in the confederacy to be officially free.

In celebration of “#JubileeDay”, “#Freedom Day”, “#Cel-Liberation Day” or “#Juneteenth” the black community celebrates the way we usually do – community, music, dancing and food, usually stylized with the African culture. But now states are celebrating too.

Pennsylvania has become the most recent state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. There is no federal or state law saying that this has to happen but 47 of 50 states have already done this.

The excluding states are Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota. However, Senators on Friday announced legislation to make Juneteenth, a widely observed national holiday.

Many are attributing the current protests to be the reason that this recently obscure holiday is now out in the open. The holiday is once again in the political spotlight since its emergence in 1865. Now, however, more than states are recognizing the holiday, companies are speaking up about the holiday as well including one very well known one.

Nike announced in a memo to its employees that starting next Friday it would recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday, putting it on par with holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

CEO John Donahue explained the decision saying, “important opportunity is to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”

A picture was taken of the Governor of Pennsylvania signing the bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Rep. Austin Davis Tweeted, “Honored to watch @GovernorTomWolf sign the bill to make #Juneteenth a Pennsylvania state holiday this afternoon! #Juneteenth is the annual celebration that marks the end of slavery!”

Some may say it is a way for corporate companies to “suck up” to the times, other’s say it is progress. One way or another, Juneteenth is no longer forgettable.


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