Tell me what you know about Juneteenth, Juneteenth.
The holiday that America ignored for over a century is now federally recognized. Juneteenth Independence Day, also known as Jubilee Day, also known as “Not July 4th,” has been a tradition powered by Black people for more than 150 years, and has left an indelible mark in the community. Since 2020’s festivities came in the wake of such destructive and visceral attacks on Black lives, current and future celebrations are carrying newer significance in nearly every major city in the nation.
Every day, Black people are fighting for equality and justice for themselves and the community. Juneteenth is an opportunity to revel in that civil rebellion with joy, family, and great stories passed along to the next generation. But there have been concerns that major brands and corporations could eventually co-opt the holiday, turning it into some cheap, commercialized date. Also, the irony of nationalizing Juneteenth while preventing schools from teaching about slavery and the 1619 Project isn’t lost.
We all must work to maintain the true essence of the holiday as it makes its way to mainstream America. Below, we’ve put together a rundown of the historical and cultural significance of Juneteenth, and we’ve outlined the efforts that helped it to finally become a federal holiday.