BLACK VOICES
06/18/2016 07:01 am ET

These Photos Show Why You Should Celebrate Juneteenth

It's America's second Independence Day, and it's lit.
Photo Researchers via Getty Images

 

It took two whole years after President Abraham Lincoln declared the abolition of slavery on January 1, 1863, for the end of one of the darkest chapters in American history to take hold.

The Emancipation Proclamation marked the end of the legalized institution of slavery in America, but in the small town of Galveston Island, Texas, black slaves had been carrying on their lives of bondage and subjugation, oblivious to the fact that they were actually free.

On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his band of Union soldiers (who had been traveling throughout the South for two years spreading the word) arrived at Galveston Island to tell the last remaining slaves in the United States that they were finally free.

The day became known as "Juneteenth," a kind of Independence Day for African-Americans, a day of celebration and remembrance. Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas, and is officially celebrated in 43 states in America, usually with parades, barbecues and memorial ceremonies. 

But Juneteenth isn't recognized as a federal holiday (though attempts have been made), and for that reason few people get to publicly celebrate it or are even aware of its existence and legacy. And that's a shame, because Juneteenth is an opportunity for black people to truly celebrate all that they've overcome through the power of community.

Below are photos of Juneteenth celebrations across the country, over the years, that capture the beauty of the holiday:

  • Missionary Pepper shows off the ribs she grilled for the cook-off contest at the 2004 Juneteenth celebrations at Nichol Park
    David Paul Morris via Getty Images
    Missionary Pepper shows off the ribs she grilled for the cook-off contest at the 2004 Juneteenth celebrations at Nichol Park in Richmond, California.
  • Siblings goofing around during Boston's 14th Annual Juneteenth Celebration in Franklin Park in 2010.
    Boston Globe via Getty Images
    Siblings goofing around during Boston's 14th Annual Juneteenth Celebration in Franklin Park in 2010.
  • Miss Juneteenth 2015, Sean-Maree Swinger-Otey, 17, waves at the parade crowd in Denver, Colorado. 
    Kathryn Scott Osler via Getty Images
    Miss Juneteenth 2015, Sean-Maree Swinger-Otey, 17, waves at the parade crowd in Denver, Colorado. 
  • Young men from the Like Brothers dance team marching in the 2015 Juneteenth celebration parade in Denver.
    Joe Amon via Getty Images
    Young men from the Like Brothers dance team marching in the 2015 Juneteenth celebration parade in Denver.
  • Jonas Felix leads the Buffalo Soldiers of the American West during a 2015 Juneteenth parade, in the historic Five Points neig
    Craig F. Walker via Getty Images
    Jonas Felix leads the Buffalo Soldiers of the American West during a 2015 Juneteenth parade, in the historic Five Points neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. 
  • Cheryl Rockwell, left, and Jeri Banks, sing, along with other members of the Hope of Glory Christian Center Choir from Los An
    Mel Melcon via Getty Images
    Cheryl Rockwell, left, and Jeri Banks, sing, along with other members of the Hope of Glory Christian Center Choir from Los Angeles, during Juneteenth Celebration held at the park grounds of the Performing Arts Center on Hobson Way in Oxnard, California. 
  • Gospel singers say a prayer together before performing for crowds at the 2002 Juneteenth Gospel Fest held at the Sonny L
    Kathryn Scott Osler via Getty Images
    Gospel singers say a prayer together before performing for crowds at the 2002 Juneteenth Gospel Fest held at the Sonny Lawson Park in Denver, Colorado.
  • A young boy participates in a sack race during the 1996 Juneteenth celebration in Santa Ana, California. 
    Don Bartletti via Getty Images
    A young boy participates in a sack race during the 1996 Juneteenth celebration in Santa Ana, California. 
  • Jonathan Talley of Roxbury grills chicken, ribs, and sausage at Franklin Park for a 2014 Juneteenth celebration in Boston.&nb
    Boston Globe via Getty Images
    Jonathan Talley of Roxbury grills chicken, ribs, and sausage at Franklin Park for a 2014 Juneteenth celebration in Boston. 
  • The Collegiate Preparatory Academy Warriors strut in the 2015 Juneteenth celebration parade in Denver, Colorado. 
    Joe Amon via Getty Images
    The Collegiate Preparatory Academy Warriors strut in the 2015 Juneteenth celebration parade in Denver, Colorado. 
  • (RM) JUNETEENTH_KSO_6_14_08327 - Denver's Juneteenth celebration is back as organizers name the event 'Juneteenth 2008: The R
    Kathryn Scott Osler via Getty Images
    (RM) JUNETEENTH_KSO_6_14_08327 - Denver's Juneteenth celebration is back as organizers name the event 'Juneteenth 2008: The Rebirth. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States as slaves in Galveston, Texas learned that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. Denver used to have one of the largest gatherings, and this year community leaders- including former Mayor Wellington Webb- worked to bring the festival back. There is a parade along with musical performers and entertainment for the kids. The Showstarz Cheer team perform acrobatics along the route. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post (Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
  • Members of the Syrian Temple Drum and Flag Corps. from Denver entertain along the parade route in Denver, 2008.
    Kathryn Scott Osler via Getty Images
    Members of the Syrian Temple Drum and Flag Corps. from Denver entertain along the parade route in Denver, 2008.
  • Divaz U Kno! marching in the Juneteenth celebration parade that started at Manual High School commemorating the ending of sla
    Joe Amon via Getty Images
    Divaz U Kno! marching in the Juneteenth celebration parade that started at Manual High School commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States in 2015.
  • In 1998,-Reggie Penney,4, with sister Amber Penney,5, enjoy the parade as it passes the main stage during the Juneteenth fest
    John Leyba via Getty Images
    In 1998,-Reggie Penney,4, with sister Amber Penney,5, enjoy the parade as it passes the main stage during the Juneteenth festivities.
  • Sharon Lyons gives grandson Jay Stevenson, 5, a kiss on the nose during a 2001 Juneteenth celebration held at the park ground
    Mel Melcon via Getty Images
    Sharon Lyons gives grandson Jay Stevenson, 5, a kiss on the nose during a 2001 Juneteenth celebration held at the park grounds of the Performing Arts Center on Hobson Way in Oxnard, California. 
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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Books To Teach Young Readers About Slavery
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