Juneteenth National Independence Day 2023
Today, June 19, 2023, you can officially wish your friends, family and colleagues a happy Juneteenth. The day, which was signed into law as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden in June 2021, is pregnant with meaning, not only for African Americans but also for Blacks displaced globally by the diaspora. But before you decide how to celebrate Juneteenth, make sure you know why we commemorate the important day.
So, what is Juneteenth? It was first celebrated on June 19, 1866, on the anniversary of the day when federal troops galloped into Galveston, Texas, with the news that slaves had been freed by decree of the Emancipation Proclamation—a whole two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the bill—sparking the emancipation of an estimated 250,000 remaining slaves. With the freedom of about 4 million slaves a part of America’s painful history, it is a day that deserves equal parts reflection and spirited celebration.
And while corporate America may be doing its best to commercialize Juneteenth, celebrants know there’s more to the holiday than themed products at chain retailers. There are Juneteenth quotes that inspire a new generation and Juneteenth flags that hearken back to a significant moment in history. And there are opportunities for education on a wide range of topics, from what it means to be an ally to how institutional racism inhibits equality.