June 19, or Juneteenth, has been a public holiday in the United States since 2021. US President Joe Biden signed a bill regulating it two years ago. What does this day represent?
Juneteenth celebrates the abolition of slavery in the United States. The word is a portmanteau of Jun (Jun) and Nadhamad (Nineteenth), or June 19. US President Abraham Lincoln formally ended slavery in the United States in 1862 with the Emancipation Proclamation. But the Southern states, united in the Confederacy, opposed it. As a result, slavery continued there for some time.
It wasn’t until the end of the American Civil War that slavery actually ended nationwide. In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was passed. On June 19 of that year, the last enslaved people were freed in the Texan city of Galveston.
Jubilee Day started small and local
Since then, former enslaved people and their descendants celebrate the abolition of slavery on June 19. This day was initially called Jubilee Day. It began small and local, mainly in local church communities. Slowly the holiday expanded into large celebrations that attracted thousands of people. At the end of the nineteenth century, the term Juneteenth was established.
But in the decades that followed, the number and scale of celebrations declined. Racist legislation, such as the so-called Jim Crow laws, barred black Americans from public and political office. Organizations that celebrated holidays like Juneteenth also got involved. This not only reduced their political influence but also reduced their social motivation. For white Americans, Juneteenth was not a priority, and many black Americans felt they were back to square one.
It wasn’t until the 1970s—after the large-scale demonstrations of the Civil Rights Movement and the repeal of Jim Crow laws in the 1960s—that the proposal to make Juneteenth a national holiday began to gain widespread support.
States make Juneteenth their own holiday
In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, 115 years after it last became a slave. In subsequent years, all other US states followed suit. In 2020, Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states not hosting the celebration.
After the death of George Floyd, a black American who was violently beaten by a white officer in May 2020, support for Juneteenth as a national holiday in the United States has surged from all walks of life.
The Black Lives Matter protests that followed Floyd’s death focused specifically on police brutality against black Americans. But the deeper thought is that many white Americans still don’t know enough about America’s slavery past.
Recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday is a step towards acknowledging the suffering of the enslaved and the legal, economic and sociological discrimination faced by their descendants.
A rare consensus in the US Congress
American politics heeded the social call, creating a rare consensus in Congress. The Senate unanimously supported the bill in 2021, while a majority (415 out of 435 members) voted in favor in the House of Representatives.
“This bill will address a long-neglected gap in our history, recognize the wrongs and pain and suffering of enslaved people and the generations that survived them, and ultimately celebrate their freedom,” said Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, one of the bill’s founders. proposal.
As Juneteenth is a public holiday from 2021, Americans have June 19 off and all states are expected to organize activities. Reflection and remembrance should be central, but there is also room for ceremony.
Ketikodi is the ‘Dutch Juneteenth’ on July 1
In the Netherlands, the abolition of slavery is celebrated annually on July 1. But Ketikodi is not a national holiday. The name Getikoti means ‘broken chains’ in the Surinamese language of Sranantongo.
On July 1, 1863, the Netherlands abolished slavery in its former colonies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. July 1 is a national holiday in Suriname. Officially, the party is called Independence Day.
Gettikodi has been celebrated since 2002 with meetings, lectures and parties in various major Dutch cities. The national commemoration will take place at Oosterpark in Amsterdam from 13:00. It has been around since 2002 National Slave Historical Monument.
In recent years, the call to make the flag a national holiday has become louder. But the Cabinet and the House of Representatives have not yet agreed to it.
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