What You Need to Know About America’s 2nd Independence Day: Juneteenth

A few years ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled across a friend’s post where she said she no longer celebrated the 4th of July.

I was confused.

Why wouldn’t she? What’s not to love about Independence Day?

Growing up, July 4th was always a big deal. Every year in history class, I was taught how “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” became a reality when our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

Because of their bravery and sacrifice, America became the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that was to be celebrated with a barbeque on a hot summer day that ended in fireworks.

If you didn’t celebrate the 4th of July, in my mind, you weren’t a good American.

But it was through my friend’s post that I learned of another independence day. One where “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” actually applied to all.

That day is Juneteenth, and although I had just learned about it, it had been celebrated for decades.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth celebrates when Union General Gorden Granger announced to the city of Galveston, Texas that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed and slaves were free.

Even after Lincoln’s signing of the Proclamation, it took years for word to spread to the rest of the country.

On June 19th, 1865, Texas became the final state to receive the news. However, it wasn’t until months later after the ratification of the 13th Amendment for the complete abolishment of slavery to happen.

It was a long process, but June 19th is the symbolic day to celebrate this freedom. 

Although it’s been celebrated since 1865, Juneteenth wasn’t officially recognized until 1980 when Texas adopted it as a state holiday.

What Does Juneteenth Mean to Me?

Although I find it extremely sad that it took me 28 years to learn about Juneteenth, I’m so thankful for my friend who introduced me to this celebration of freedom.

Today is a great opportunity for me to learn more about racial reconciliation in America, and I hope you join me.

Here are three resources, I’ve found helpful.

1: Phil Vischer, you might best know him as the voice of Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales, made a video on the history of race in America that is very informative.

2: Sherri Lynn, producer of the Brant Hansen Show, shares how to look at Racism through the lens of Calvary.

3: Here’s a list of 7 Christian books for (Better) Understanding Race and Faith in America.

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