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Juneteenth, the alternative Independence Day?

Juneteenth, or June 19 in lay terms, sees celebrations in the form of community events, gatherings and festivities to mark the commemoration of the end of slavery on June 19, 1865 in Texas. It is a sort of an alternative Independence Day as 39 states now formally observe Juneteenth as the end of slavery in America.

This weekend too sees the celebrations taking the form of parades, sporting events, cultural and artistic meets to encourage African-American talent and a general spread of awareness of the historic moments in American history.

Although the Proclamation of Emancipation by President Abraham Lincoln was announced as an executive order almost three years earlier on Sept. 22, 1863, it was the official arrival of General Cordon Granger's regiment in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, that overcame the resistance of the Lone Star State according to the official site, Juneteenth.com

The proclamation declared, "all persons held as slaves within any State - shall be then - forever free - and no act or acts to repress such person - shall be committed."

The president went on to say he "enjoin(s) upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence - and labor faithfully for reasonable wages."

It was only in 1980 that Juneteenth became an official Texas state holiday following a strong campaign by Al Edwards, the state representative. Nevada, in April, this year became the 39th state to mark Juneteenth as a state holiday, according to the website nationaljuneteenth.com.

The official site for Juneteenth is doing its bit to see that the spirit is kept alive. They are aiming to make 2015 as the big year to mark the 150 years of the official abolition. There is much more work to be done according to community leaders.

The day, marked by community and neighborhood celebrations, is still struggling to gain national status. San Francisco has held one of the nation's largest Juneteenth celebrations for the last five-plus decades - and Minnesota, where Minneapolis boasts a large festival.

Eleven states do not recognize Juneteenth. As expected some of these states were slave states before the Civil War. It is here that people feel that the word about Juneteenth has to be spread. "We may have gotten there in different ways and at different times," said Rev. Ronald V. Meyers, chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation in an interview to Times magazine, "but you can't really celebrate freedom in America by just going with the Fourth of July."

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 19, 2011
Words:414
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