As of 2020, 47 states have declared Juneteenth a holiday or holiday observance, though not necessarily a day off. This week, Governor Cuomo
signed an executive order making Juneteenth an official holiday for state employees. Albany Mayor Sheehan just declared it a holiday for City employees.
Photo from video?
Of our traditional independence day, Frederick Douglass, a former slave, abolitionist, writer, and orator, declared on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, N.Y.:
“This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. ...I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.”
Henry Louis Gates,
Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University:
“By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched…we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that ‘This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.
“What is Juneteenth?”
, June 17, 2013
P.R. Lockhart, writer for Vox:
“In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the US has always been delayed for Black people. The decades after the end of the war would see a wave of lynching, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws take root. What followed was the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, and a lack of economic investment. And now, as national attention remains focused on acts of police violence and various racial profiling incidents, it is clear that while progress has been made in Black America’s 150 years out of bondage, considerable barriers continue to impede that progress. Those barriers may remain until America truly begins to grapple with its history.
What can you do?
LEARN MORE about this important day in America's history:
DONATE to a local or national organization that works to further justice and equality for Black Americans.
LEARN MORE about the genius Black minds behind some of the most common objects in our lives. Like the three light traffic-light invented by Garrett Morgan or the carbon light bulb by Lewis Latimer:
ASK your employer/organization to commemorate Juneteenth in a meaningful way - a day of volunteering, a day of learning (such as, cancelling all meetings and engaging in conversation about the history, experiences and issues that Black Americans still face), etc.
LISTEN to Stevie Wonder, the first Black artist to win a Grammy award for album of the year in 1973 (
) or listen to this version of the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing (
) performed by June’s Diary and members of Facebook Groups.
GET INSPIRATION for your Juneteenth meals from Tabitha Brown, Kwame Onwuachi (
) and Ayesha Curry.
CHECK OUT how to take your community’s celebration virtual: Juneteenth Week 2020, the Juneteenth Jubilee Live! or the ARA Juneteenth Virtual Art Show.
LEARN and REFLECT - Take a moment this Friday, June 19th, to reflect on this historic day and how we can continue to celebrate and recognize the incredible Black Americans in our communities.