Juneteenth “Freedom Day”
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County wishes our community a joyful day of celebration and reflection this Sunday, June 19th which is Juneteenth also known as “Freedom Day!” Last year, the US Congress passed a bill and President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021, making Juneteenth a recognized federal holiday. This year it will be celebrated on Monday, June 20th.
Juneteenth “Freedom Day” (June 19th) has been a day of celebration in the African American community since 1866 because it is seen as the true day slavery ended in America. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, and on June 19, 1865, 2,000 Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Bay, TX.
Gen. Gordon announced to the 250,000 enslaved black people of Texas that in keeping with the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln and enacted on Jan. 1, 1863, they were now free. This was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War.“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.” — General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865
Though Juneteenth has historically been an African American celebration it is truly a National Day of Remembrance and call to action. As the preamble of the US Constitution states “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union. . .” We as individuals and as a collective society must continue to work together to advance community efforts that foster peace, justice, and equality.
Juneteenth is the embodiment of the belief Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
As you take time to celebrate this holiday with family and friends enjoying cooking out, recreational activities or just relaxing on your day off the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County ask that you take some moments to reflect on the suffering, pain, and sacrifices enslaved African Americans endured for Juneteenth to come about, and the continuing work required so that all Americans are able to enjoy “. . . absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property.”
Have a happy and safe Juneteenth!