Juneteenth isn’t something I’ve ever celebrated.

Fourth of July, yes.

Memorial Day and Veterans Day—only if it were work related. Indigenous People’s Day—nope. If only I were paid to have the day off, did I pay much attention to these days. Otherwise, just another day on the calendar. I realize I could do better.

Juneteenth was not something I learned about in school. It’s a date Black people in particular have known about for more than 150 years.

Even with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, most of the South continued to enslave people until 1865 when the Civil War ended.

Texas was the last to learn the war was over and the Union had won. It was June 19, 1865, that word finally reached Galveston, Texas, that Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered.

Now that’s something worth commemorating. People celebrated that day and have every year since. Festivities spread throughout Texas and then to Western states.

In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday.

While equality for all is still merely a quaint idea and not a reality in this country, recognition of Juneteenth is a step in the right direction. The ramifications of that war, of slavery, of inequality—they are all realities we still live with. They are topics that should be discussed at the dinner table, among friends, in schools and certainly in the halls of government.

I have no plans for Juneteenth other than working, but acknowledging it here and in my conscientious, well, that’s a start to giving this date its just due.

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