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Remember real reason for Juneteenth

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 17, 2010 at 1:17 a.m.


States that recognize Juneteenth:

Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Delaware, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, California, Wyoming, Missouri, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Colorado, Arkansas, Oregon, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Virginia, Washington, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Vermont.

In 2003, the District of Columbia passed legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a district holiday observance. Many more states, including Utah, Alabama, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Montana, Wisconsin and Maryland have recognized Juneteenth through annual state legislative resolutions, gubernatorial proclamations and current state holiday observance legislation.

Pageantry, churchgoing, parades, picnics, barbecues and more food, games and sports - fun: This is an equation for Juneteenth, a celebration of black culture in which all people can partake. This definition of Juneteenth is not entirely complete, however.

We cannot - ever - forget what the real significance of Juneteenth is. And that importance lies in its history.

The holiday was born in Galveston when Gen Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, two years after the document was signed on Jan. 1, 1863. Although it was a couple of years late, the message of the proclamation was that all slaves in Texas - about 250,000 - were free from bondage. The wait for that word was worth it - freedom at last.

In 1968, the Poor People's March to Washington brought to light Juneteenth, and that enlightenment spread across the nation. Texas Rep. Al Edwards carried legislation that was passed in 1979, making the day a state holiday.

Many hope that President Barack Obama makes the day a national holiday.

Already, 29 other states recognize the holiday in some form: either by legislation or by resolution.

We are happy to brag that Texas recognized the day officially as a state holiday and hope that it becomes a national holiday.

Freedom is a coveted state of being for any people, anywhere, and it should be celebrated out loud - as loud as possible.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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