Today, communities across America and some parts of the world will be celebrating Juneteenth or, as some call it, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day or Jubilee Day.
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and delivered the news that slaves in Texas had been liberated two years earlier, in January 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Today’s celebration of Juneteenth couldn’t come at a more fitting time, with our country in the middle of what some might say is a rising of black and non-black citizens of America fighting for equality for blacks which, if we’re being honest, is way overdue.
There’s been a constant theme across our country — even crossing over the pond — to help fight issues of systemic racism and injustice as it relates to black people and others who have been dealt the problematic hand of racial inequality.
We’ve always stressed the importance of Juneteenth and have supported efforts to make Juneteenth a National Day of Observance, like Flag Day or Grandparents Day. Here’s hoping that the current administration will finally take a good look at making this happen to help move our country toward righting the wrongs of our forefathers and ensuring that the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution can truly be for every American citizen — no matter their race.
And Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said he would soon introduce a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
It’s long overdue. Juneteenth should be on America’s national calendar, and it’s time that we all try to do our part by writing the president and state leaders to help get this done.
Our country is hurting. Americans, black and white and in between, want change. There’s no better way to express that than by not only doing your part but celebrating Juneteenth’s historical importance each and every year for generations to come.
If you’ve never heard of Juneteenth, or if you’ve never taken the time to celebrate it, today is a great day to start. If you’re looking for information, take a visit to Rosenberg Library, which has a plethora of information and artifacts about Juneteenth.
Or plan a trip to the First African-American Museum, 3427 Sealy St. in Galveston, which includes a lot of black history about island residents through the years.
And although this year’s festivities have been halted in Galveston County because of COVID-19, you can still celebrate Juneteenth by attending the 41st annual Al Edwards’ Juneteenth Celebration at 10 a.m. today on the front lawn of Ashton Villa, 2312 Broadway in Galveston.
If you can’t make today’s celebration, the Galveston Historical Foundation will be live streaming the event, which you can watch at GalvNews.com.
Juneteenth’s tradition shouldn’t be overlooked and treated as an afterthought. It’s a celebration that is just as much a part of America’s history as the Fourth of July and should be celebrated as such.
Happy Juneteenth, Galveston County.
• Angela Wilson