Rio Salado College will be closed on Monday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth. We're proud to celebrate this day of remembrance for a great moment in history when justice and inclusivity triumphed over prejudice and heartless adversity.
What Is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth marks a landmark in freedom for all Americans: the end of slavery in the United States. It celebrates the day when federal troops marched into Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people in the region were freed. This happened a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued by President Lincoln that changed the legal status of all enslaved African Americans in the Confederate states from enslaved to free. The proclamation granted them protection, offering any escaped or liberated slave from the South their freedom. Despite the issuing of the order, many slaves remained in a state of forced servitude and abjection afterward, trapped in the Confederacy until Union forces came in. With the fall of Galveston in 1865, the last holdouts of slavery were put to justice. While slavery would officially become permanently abolished six months later when Georgia ratified the 13th Amendment, it’s generally recognized that the liberation of Galveston was the last gasp of the old slave owning world.
While Juneteenth didn’t become officially recognized as a federal holiday until June 17, 2021, the holiday has been actively celebrated by African-Americans for generations. How people celebrate the holiday can vary by community, but a few popular traditions include the holding of picnics, blues festivals, rodeos, cookouts, and street fairs. The color red often comes up during Juneteenth and its signature dishes (which include red velvet cake, red punch, and strawberry soda). It’s believed that the prominence of red during Juneteenth is meant to be symbolic of the blood shed by slaves and all who suffered under this brutal system.
Interested in learning more about Juneteenth? Check out these media resources provided by our library staff that include videos on the importance of Juneteenth and a playlist of songs that are fit for the occasion. Juneteenth is also a great time to immerse yourself in the vibrant art and culture of the African-American community. If you’re looking for recommendations on African-American film, literature, or music, take a look at our list of Black History Month art recommendations.
Article by Austin Brietta