MAMA SEATTLE CELEBRATES THE SIGNING OF THE
JUNETEENTH NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE DAY ACT
On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday just days before June 19, 2021. Juneteenth National Independence Day is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was added in 1983.
This historically important day commemorates when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, just two months before his proclamation made it to Texas. The news finally reached the port city of Galveston when Union soldiers arrived on June 19, 1865 and Maj. Gen Gordon Granger read a federal order abolishing the institution of slavery in the state:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
The news was met with jubilation and thus began the annual holiday. It’s also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day.
MAMA Seattle is exhilarated that this historical and vastly significant day has been formally recognized by the United States as a federal holiday and would like to provide the following list of resources, events and activities below so that our membership can observe Juneteenth with their families:
- June 15-21 – Juneteenth Week virtual programs through the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle. Volunteer here.
- June 15-19 – Juneteenth: Lift Every Voice – 10 African American History and Culture Museums join forces for virtual program on blkfreedom.
- June 19 – 49th Annual Juneteenth Oregon Celebration, a livestream show produced and supported by PDX Jazz. Volunteer here.
- June 19 – Alonzo Tucker Equal Justice Initiative Historical Marker Dedication virtual (and live) event offered by the Oregon Remembrance Project.
- June 19-20 – The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture is hosting a virtual celebration, Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience.
- Peruse Juneteenth reading lists like these compiled by the Chicago Public Library and Penguin Random House.
- Read The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family by Betty Kearse or watch the documentary.
- Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air podcast on The History of Juneteenth or The Daily: The History and Meaning of Juneteenth on Apple Podcasts.