by Angeles Ross, Community Engagement Specialist
For many of us, we’ve been taught that end of slavery was on January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the peak of the Civil War. Although history books have continued to tell this story, one large piece was missing – until now.
Juneteenth was created by the Black community in Texas to honor and celebrate the day when the last 250,000 enslaved Black human beings received news that they had been emancipated two and a half years prior. Ever since June 19 has been a day of Black empowerment and pride. Informally celebrated throughout all the United States, this day has been overlooked at a federal level after centuries of inequities and systemic racism that have persisted since the end of the Civil War.
So, when the news broke that President Biden officially proclaimed that this June 19, 2021, will be considered a federal holiday, it became apparent that this past year of civil unrest and activism toward racial justice has made some sort of real dent. Thus, this is a joyous moment to celebrate!
As exciting as this time is, let us not forget that this is only a small step on the path toward systemic change. Let us not forget the millions of men, women, and children who have been left behind by the system, systematically discriminated against, incarcerated, or even murdered for nothing more but the fact that they were Black in the United States. As we celebrate, this holiday also solemnly recognizes that countless Black families and children are still experiencing the residual impacts of slavery.
Let this moment energize those on the frontlines of equity and justice work to keep fighting for the future of our children. And for those who are just learning about this fight, let this moment be one of learning, acceptance, and growth.
In Denver, there is a wonderfully festive annual celebration, beginning the day with a parade throughout Five Points (Juneteenth Music Festival). Below are some other ideas on how to celebrate Juneteenth this year in Denver: