Juneteenth, a “part of history that was skipped,” becomes national holiday

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People in Detroit expressed their passion for the holiday Juneteenth. From mural paintings to graffiti art for sale. Some asked themselves if the holiday is worth celebrating considering how one celebrates Black History in February. 

Terrence Washington said it’s time Juneteenth gets its proper recognition. “I think we should make it feel like a relevant holiday because it’s a piece of our history that was skipped and not taught in elementary, middle, or high school,” said Washington, 19, from Detroit Michigan. “We were only taught about the stealing and massacring of our people.”

Juneteenth, or Jubilee Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States. It highlights African American culture and how enslaved people were notified of their freedom. It originated in Galveston. Texas, and is celebrated on June 19. It became admired last year after the protests. 

“Juneteenth is definitely a relevant holiday to celebrate,” said Phillip Seaborn. “The United States has a long and complicated history and as we learn more and continue to take strides as a nation, it is important that we grapple with that history in order to learn from the past to better the future,” said Seaborn, assistant director for Undergraduate Diversity at Michigan State University. 

Whether Black Americans need a holiday to themselves has been debated in the media and in the government. The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is an example of how Black Americans are celebrated along with the emancipation proclamation. Recent demonstrations against police brutality have brought Juneteenth into light which raises questions for many according to Los Angeles Times. 

“Juneteenth provides a historical marker indicating the complete end of chattel slavery in the United States two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. I believe that bringing light to this information through Juneteenth is an opportunity not only to celebrate the end of slavery but to create deeper conversation about our nation’s history and where we go from here,” Seaborn said. 

On June 17, President Joe Biden signed a bill making the holiday a national holiday. The popularity surrounding the holiday is because it provides a deeper and more accurate representation of America’s history according to Google Scholar. July 4 is similar but Juneteenth goes beyond what many Americans were taught involving the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the government to mandate what we celebrate. Malcolm X’s birthday is May 19 and that’s celebrated by us without it being a national holiday,” said Shajne Smith. “It feels like an empty gesture to say here’s your freedom but you still keep African Americans at the bottom of the system,” Smith said, 24, from Detroit Michigan. 

Due to the events in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement between the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Juneteenth became popular in a sense of honoring the Black lives that were lost. In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the U.S has been delayed for Black Americans according to The New York Times.

“Predominantly Black neighborhoods have crime rates that are through the roof,” Smith Said. “Instead of giving us empty gestures like holidays and Black emojis, do something that ignites change and helps impoverished communities. It helps to know but it’s something we already should’ve been taught instead of the trauma side”.

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