Juneteenth is a celebration of the total emancipation of Africans enslaved in North America.
It has been celebrated historically primarily in Texas. However, Juneteenth celebrations have always existed in places like Syracuse, NY, Denver, Colorado and many other pockets of America.
This runs contrary to President Donald Trump’s assertion that “”nobody had ever heard of” the holiday before he brought it up. In fact, the fact that white America is waking up to the holiday is shocking.
After all, it is the quintessential moment that America should realize how pervasive white supremacy really is. For those in denial allow us to walk you through American white supremacy 101.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is the oldest regular U.S. celebration of the end of enslavement.
It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas telling a group of enslaved African-Americans that the Civil War had ended and they had been freed.
Astonishingly, that event took place more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
As one of the farthest States from the southern stronghold, slave owners there were able to stave off the economic collapse of slavery for almost three years!
However, the power of Juneteenth and other events that happened in America involving people of color is American history.
Attempting To Rewrite The Narrative
You can always tell when someone is running scared. Usually their mouth runs just as fast to spin a situation in their favor.
Enter Donald Trump who is seeking to take credit for making Juneteenth “very famous.” However, Trump cancelled a scheduled rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma that would have been today.
It would have been his first rally since the start of the pandemic and he shelved the event for a later date to avoid further criticism for seeming to co-opt it.
That’s Black Power. Thats’s Black Privilege.
The current wave of protests are not letting up and the pressure is on. Company after company is acknowledging Juneteenth and some cities and States have made it an official holiday with paid leave.
Trump, has few African-American advisers in the White House and in his Cabinet. He absurdly told the Wall Street Journal he “polled many people around him, none of whom had heard of Juneteenth.”
However, according to the report, the President asked an aide during the interview whether she had heard of the holiday “and she pointed out that the White House had issued a statement last year commemorating the day.”
Trump didn’t seem to know that his White House had been putting out public statements commemorating the Juneteenth during his time in office.
“Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Trump said, adding that that was “good.”
Trump also told the Journal that it was a black Secret Service agent who told him the meaning of Juneteenth.
So in essence, it is Trump who doesn’t know American history while holding the highest seat in the land.
Currently, 93-year old Opal Lee from Fort Worth, TX has been petitioning to make Juneteenth a national day of observance like Flag Day.
In her change.org campaign, she informs that 46 states now have it as a state day of observance to commemorate the ending of slavery.
“I believe Juneteenth can be a unifier because it recognizes that slaves didn’t free themselves and that they had help. Quakers along the Underground Railroad, abolitionists both black and white like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Soldiers and many others who gave their lives for the freedom of the enslaved.
“I started a campaign to walk to Washington, DC 2016 and have relaunched it this summer 2019 to bring awareness. The fact is that this is more than a notion. There is support for it all across this nation. There is legislation that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson authored in 2012 to update US Code 36. It lists all the national observances to include Juneteenth, it only needs to be updated and passed into law.”
So if Trump really wants to make something famous then make Juneteenth a national holiday.