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Here’s what Juneteenth means, and what Hoosiers should know about it

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Forty-seven states, including Indiana, and the nation’s capital Washington D.C., observe Juneteenth or have it as a state holiday. But, what is the significance of the date June 19th?

Sometimes called Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth, that’s June 19th, marks the emancipation, or freedom of the last African-American slaves in the U.S. On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that legally declared all slaves were free. But, at that time some slave owners did not agree with the proclamation.

More than two years later, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger, from the Union Army, rode to Galveston, Texas and announced slavery and the Civil War were over.

Since the late 1860s, many African Americans celebrate Juneteenth much the same way as July 4th, with community events, parties and gatherings with family and friends.

“I think, you know, commemorations such as Juneteenth are the kind that we continuously need to keep us aware and focused on the idea that freedom is a constant struggle,” said Leslie Etienne, director of Africana Studies at IUPUI.

The Congressional Research Service said Indiana has recognized Juneteenth since 2010. But, that’s not the case in the Dakotas or Hawaii, for those states still do not observe it.

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) plans to hold virtual events starting June 19.

In a media release sent to News 8, ASALH explained the purpose of the virtual events saying:

“To provide the Indianapolis community the opportunity to commemorate Juneteenth, the long history of bravery and resilience in the African American community, and to discuss new methods and models of freedom in the current moment. We believe that Juneteenth is not just a historic holiday, but that it is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate justice-seeking and liberatory practices in our contemporary communities. This is our initial dialogue addressing systemic racism in the United States and Indianapolis, and we are committed to maintaining these conversations in order to address and ultimately erase the long-standing impact of racism and white supremacy on the Black citizens of the United States. Please stay in touch with ASALH for more educational events as well as opportunities to engage in crucial conversations about African and African American history and the goal of transforming our society into a fairer and more just place for all of its citizens.”

ASALH

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