History of Juneteenth
Compiled by Shauna James, Washington State Health Care Authority.
What is Juneteenth?
“Juneteenth” (June Nineteenth) commemorates freedom for African Americans, and reminds us of the promises of freedom, equity, and equitable opportunity which are at the core of the American Dream.
The historical legacy of Juneteenth is a good mirror of how freedom and justice in our nation has always been “delayed” for Black people.
For decades waves of lynching, imprisonment, and Jim Crow laws took root. This resulted in a disproportionate impact of discriminatory policies, disparities, and a lack of economic opportunity and investment.
While some progress has been made, considerable barriers still exist towards fuller equity. Thus, the importance of the recognition and observance of Juneteenth to demonstrate our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth (June Nineteenth)
1502: The first known Transatlantic Slave Trade voyage - At least 10 million Black people were forcibly transported from Africa and sold into slavery.
January 1, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, but some Confederate states refused to enforce this law.
June 19, 1865: General Gordon Granger arrives in Galveston, Texas and announces that more than 250,000 enslaved black people were free through the Emancipation Proclamation).
December 1865: The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, freeing all enslaved people & abolishing slavery in the U.S.
June 7, 1979: Representative Al Edwards introduces a bill declaring “Juneteenth” a state holiday - Texas was the first state to recognize the observance.
June 17, 2021: President Joe Biden establishes Juneteenth, the date commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S, as a federal holiday.
Key points of Governor Inslee’s Juneteenth Proclamation
In his all-state communication, Governor Jay Inslee said recent events caused him to examine how persistent racism continues to impact people of color in the State of Washington, but worldwide.
The proclamation is aimed at recognizing contributions of African Americans to our state and country and as a chance to reflect on progress till to be made to endure equal access and opportunity and for self-improvement and planning for a more equitable future.
Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom, acknowledges the resilience and determination that African Americans have shown.
Since its origin in 1865 in Galveston, Texas the observance of June 19 (Juneteenth) as the African-American Emancipation Day has spread across the US and worldwide.
In his communication about the proclamation, he made a commitment to making Washington a more inclusive state and our workplace an environment where every employee is encouraged to bring their true and authentic selves to work.
The proclamation makes Juneteenth a legal holiday. He urged ALL citizens to learn about the celebration and its significance in American History and the heritage of our nation.
The Juneteenth Flag
On June 19th you might start seeing another red, white, and blue flag flying over our state.
That banner with a star bursting in the middle is the Juneteenth Flag, a symbol of the end of slavery in the United States.
The flag was created in 1997 by Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF).
According to Haith the design was a deliberate process. Here’s what each element of the flag represents:
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