Juneteenth is the celebration of June 19th, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger visited Galvinston, Texas to read official federal orders proclaiming that ALL previous slaves were now free. Although President Lincoln had helped write the Emancipation Proclamation into law earlier in 1862 to make slavery illegal, Texas remained with very little or no enforcement of that law due to the low amount of Union officials in the state. Therefore, Juneteenth marks the true end of slavery in the USA.
Also known as Freedom Day, June 19th has since been observed annually. Celebrations include festivals, music, food, and reading works/quotes by influential African American figures as well as the Emancipation Proclamation itself. During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement overshadowed the holiday festivities and now in 2020, seven years after the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement to combat police brutality and legal discrimination toward African Americans, it’s horrifying to realize that so much has still remained unchanged.
As a white American who grew up in small country town, I (and so many others) was never taught anything about Juneteenth, the riots after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination that actually led to the 1968 Civil Rights Act being passed, and much, much more. Our school taught the bare minimum about slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement, painting the end results in a positive light to lead us white people to ignorantly believe the fight for equality was a thing of the past.
But nothing could be further from the truth and that is exactly why Juneteenth is so important to all Americans, not just African Americans. It is not just a celebration that things have changed and CAN change, but a reminder that ‘equal rights’ is not a past issue. Systematic racism against African Americans is still ever present and MUST change. Black Lives Matter then, they matter now, and they will continue to matter in the future.
So in honor of Juneteenth and Black Lives Matter, I want to promote African American writers/publishers/illustrators/narrators/book reviewers. Please comment your links below and/or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would really like to share your posts directly as well, so feel free to give me your Twitter/Facebook link and tell me which of your post(s) to retweet/reshare. I will be sharing everything starting tomorrow and for as long as links are given to me.
Remember that Juneteenth is a date of grave historical importance, but Black Lives Matter EVERY day. Please help me to continue to actively support African Americans not just on June 19th, not just during Black History Month or during protests, but every day of every year forever. All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.