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Juneteenth a day to celebrate end of slavery in US

The word “Juneteenth” is much more than a cute play on words.

It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas, origin in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day across the United States, explains the website juneteenth.com thusly:

“Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement,” the website reads. “It is a day, a week and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.”

One of the first orders of business of Gen. Gordon Granger, a Union general during the Civil War, was to read to the people of Texas General Order No. 3, which began with this proclamation: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Emancipation from slavery marked a major change in American society, and it’s one that should continue to be noted today.

As most people know, or should know, racial equality is far from being achieved, with many recent news events emphasizing this sad reality.

That doesn’t mean things have to this way, and Juneteenth can go a long way to foster social justice.

Speaking of social justice, local residents can celebrate Juneteenth when the local group Social Justice For Us will hold “Juneteenth: A Cultural Celebration,” which is set for 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

There will be music and games, but more importantly, the event will celebrate cultural differences to promote solidarity.

Even if you can’t make it to Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Saturday, we urge you to study the history behind Juneteenth, and make solidarity a part of your everyday life.

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