We ask one and all to join Rastafari JAMS with celebrating JUNETEENTH, a day to honor Black emancipation from slavery in the United States and the hope of human equality globally!
The origins of celebrating JUNETEENTH can be traced back to June 19th, 1865 - the day that the news of the "Emancipation Proclomation" of 1863, finally reached over 250,000 enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas who were informed that they now free from slavery! There's currently a 5000 square foot mural in the exact spot where General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War and read "General Order Number 3" which notified Texans that all slaves were now free!
The 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden has recently signed a bill that was unanimously passed by the US Senate, which acknowledges June 19th as a federal holiday to be recognized as "JUNETEENTH"! This marks the first US holiday created since MLK Day in 1983, a holiday in honor of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prior to this week, Juneteenth had only been established as a state holiday in the Texas since 1979.
The legislation that signed the holiday into law was influenced by the several decade long commitment, resilience and persistence of Black activists who have fought tirelessly for federal recognition of the holiday! Especially Texas born "Grandmother of Juneteenth", 94 year young, retired teacher and counselor Opal Lee (the daughter of Otis & Mattie Flake)
The Flake family is a Black family that purchased their home at 940 East Annie Street in Forth Worth, Texas in June of 1939 and 4 days later (during a Juneteenth celebration) were forced out of their home due to preservation of life. Opal was only 12 years old when she witnessed & survive the mobbing and attack of over 500 white racists who invaded, vandalized & burned down her family's house! Although they lost their home, her parents, two younger siblings and her were all able to safely escape without serious injury.
Also referred to as Black Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day or even Emancipation Day, as of June 17th 2021, JUNETEENTH is officially been signed into US law as a federal holiday that will now be celebrated annually on June 19th.
This federal holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States! Additionally, it's intended to celebrate the freedom of millions of Black Americans who had been enslaved in the U.S. for nearly 250 years by the time of receiving the news of Abraham Lincoln's proclamation to abolish slavery in America (which was executed by way of the "13th Amendment" to the United States constitution). That said, as we continue to celebrate emancipation & liberation, it is equally important for us to remember the lives of those who have spoke up, stood up, fought and even sacrificed their life for the causes of "Freedom" & "Absolute Equality" for every member of the human community, acknowledging Black people as humans! JUNETEENTH is also about recognizing, that although physical slavery was legally abolished in the United States in 1865, Black people in America still have had to deal with the new forms of slavery for over 156 years since - racism & inequality!
From several American slave revolts, to Marcus Garvey's "UNIA" movement, to the Civil Rights movement which included the countless marches, protests, boycotts, and litigation cases that overcame Jim Crow. To the Black Panther Party of Self Defense's "Black Power" movement, along with Chairman Fred Hampton's "I Am A Revolutionary" movement & assassination, as well as Malcolm X's "By Any Means Necessary" philosophy, to Dr Martin Luther King Jr's assassination, even to the daily revolts that happen currently across the country and world. These examples all serve as reminders to us all of the fight that Black people have had on our "long walk to freedom", and should inspire us all to remain mindful of doing our part to assure that everyone has a chance to exercise their human right to freedom and equal opportunity! This collection of historical facts explains the purpose of why JUNETEENTH should be a significant holiday for every American, especially Black people in America
In 2016, Opal Lee organized a walk that was planned to be a 1400 mile walk from Fort Worth, Texas to the nation's capitol to pay a surprise visit to former U.S. President, Barack Obama and bring significance of Juneteenth to his attention (Opal's Walk 2 DC). Since then she has continued with pursuit, which includes executing another part of her plan with the walk to DC, to get a petition signed by 100,000 people to support her request for JUNETEENTH to become recognized as a federal holiday. Let it be known by everyone following her journey, even prior to the federal bill be signed, she had accumulated more than 1.5 Million signatures!
Opal's ultimate idea is for the celebration to extend from June 19th/JUNETEENTH (Black Independence Day) through July 4th (American Independence Day) as a 2 week long reflection of independence, liberation, freedom and absolute EQUALITY!
Happy Juneteenth Human Family
P.J. Cannon Jr.