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Please join us for a community Juneteenth Festival this Saturday (6/18) at Farm Pond from 2-7pm.

Posted Thursday, June 16, 2022

What is Juneteenth?

Need it quick? Here are the key points. (Source: National Museum of African American History)

  • June 19, 1865 - federal orders announced in Galveston, Texas that slavery was now illegal, two months after the surrender by the Confederates
  • Earlier attempts at “freeing the slaves” like the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) did not free enslaved people 
  • Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery and marks a second independence day that is celebrated in the Black and African American community. 

What is the Juneteenth flag and what does it represent?

blue on the top, red on the bottom, a white five-point star centered in the middle with a white outline around it.

Significance (Source)

The centered star represents Texas, the Lone Star State. It was in Galveston in 1865 where Union soldiers informed the country's last remaining enslaved people that, under the Emancipation Proclamation issued two years earlier, they were free. But the star also goes beyond Texas, representing the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states.

The bursting outline around the star is inspired by a nova, a term that astronomers use to mean a new star. On the Juneteenth flag, this represents a new beginning for the African Americans of Galveston and throughout the land.

The curve that extends across the width of the flag represents a new horizon: the opportunities and promise that lie ahead for black Americans.

The red, white and blue represent the American flag, a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are Americans.

Are there other flags for Juneteenth?

Although the official Juneteenth flag is the one above, there are other flags that may be flown at the same time. 

Flag with three horizontal stripes: red on top, black in the middle, and green on the bottom

Pan African Flag

The Pan-African flag was created in 1920 to represent people of the African Diaspora and to symbolize black liberation in the United States. As flags symbolize the union of governance, people, and territory, this flag was created to give Black people in America and the world over a symbol that unifies the Diaspora. This tri-color flag consists of three equal horizontal bands colored Red, Black, and Green

Red: the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation;

Black: for the people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag;

Green: the abundant and vibrant natural wealth of Africa, the Motherland.


Why should we all know and celebrate this holiday?

Need it quick? Here are the main points. (Source)

  • Most of our education has omitted non-European history and holidays.
  • This holiday celebrates freedom and liberty.
  • Remember the legacy of slavery, how Black and African Americans helped build the United States, and the trauma of those enslaved and their descendents.

From Learning for Justice: ... Juneteenth is more than an observance of freedom, it’s also a time to share the experiences of those who fought—literally and figuratively—to seek true freedom for future generations. It’s important that we don’t whitewash this history. The history of Juneteenth acknowledges hard history while also empowering students to be advocates for change. 

From Time Magazine: We should care because the very fabric of our society depends on our shared religion of inalienable rights. A celebration of freedom for any American is a celebration of the ideals that make our country what it is today. American identity emerged from shared faith in the transcendental ideal of liberty, not from shared blood. Therefore, any celebration of American freedom is a celebration for us all. Juneteenth is about liberty, not about race.

From Vox:

  • Historian and professor Karlos K. Hill describes how commemorating Juneteenth is important for all Americans because it helps us see all the ways that slavery still shapes this country, including, as he says, “the desire to master and dominate black bodies” (qtd. in “Why all Americans should celebrate Juneteenth”)
  • Karlos K. Hill explains how “Juneteenth is a necessary moment of observation because our government and, to a certain degree, our nation and our culture has not really acknowledged the trauma of 4 million enslaved people and their descendants. It hasn’t acknowledged the impact this institution has had on this country and continues to have on this country. There hasn’t been a national accounting, and I think the Juneteenth holiday is kind of a reminder of that. And it will continue to be a reminder and a haunting until we do. It’s necessary, but it isn’t sufficient in terms of what we need to do when it comes to acknowledging this history” (qtd. in “Why celebrating Juneteenth is more important now than ever”)