Everyone in the U.S. is familiar with July 4th, the day the colonies that would become the first 13 states declared their independence from Britain. It's celebrated as a day of freedom and liberty, and is a national holiday recognized by most. But there is another event that is widely overlooked that holds equal if not greater significance to the growth of the United States as a country of freedom and liberty.
That event was the freeing of the last enslaved people within the United States. On that day, June 19th, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Texas, freeing the people who were enslaved there. The Emancipation Proclamation had been issued over two years earlier, but Texas was one of the most remote states still enslaving people at the time. June 19th, also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth, and Freedom Day is celebrated in some communities and at the local and state level. But it is not a federally recognized holiday and it really should be.
While freeing enslaved people did not end racism in this country, it was the first step on the path to ending racism. As such, it should be celebrated at the federal level. Many people within the U.S. never even learn about this day growing up, highlighting just how much the powers that be seem to want to erase this piece of history. Celebrating Juneteenth on a national level would be an important symbolic step towards acknowledging the harm of the past and present and reorienting ourselves as a country towards a truly equitable future.
Please sign on if you want to see the federal government decale June 19th a recognized federal holiday!