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In states where Juneteenth is still not a day off, activists see a missed opportunity

When Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, South Carolina organizer Jamal Bradley was excited for it to finally get the recognition it deserves. But his enthusiasm was quickly dashed when he learned state leaders decided not to follow suit in observing the holiday.It just lets me know there’s still work left to do in South Carolina,” said Bradley, who started a petition for Juneteenth to become a state holiday.Also known as “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day,” Juneteenth commemorates when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and gave word to enslaved African Americans that they were free — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The holiday has been celebrated by many Black families for generations, but began to gain wider attention in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor Reasons for the delay vary from state to state. In some places, it’s due to lagging bureaucracy. In other places, it’s due to disputes over when to actually celebrate the holiday.Likewise, there’s a range of implications. On a practical level, the lack of a state holiday means local employees may not be able to take time off to observe Juneteenth. It may also mean state government buildings will remain open on the holiday. But to many Black activists, the extent to which Juneteenth is embraced by state governments speaks volumes about their progress toward racial justice.Our lawmakers are missing an opportunity to show that this state is ready to move forward,” Bradley said.Doris Moore Bailey from Lakeland, Fla., believes it’s time for Juneteenth to be treated like July Fourth.Florida also has yet to designate Juneteenth as an official state holiday, in part because of a controversy over what day to commemorate: June 19 or on the day enslaved people in Florida learned they were emancipated. A Juneteenth state holiday bill died after some historians argued the state should honor Florida’s Emancipation Day instead. A Union general read the Emancipation Proclamation in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865.We have two Independence days, June 19 and Fourth of July, one freed the people and one freed the land,” said Bailey.Since 1992, she and former state representative, Dr. Alzo Reddick, has worked to establish Juneteenth as an annual tradition in her city. Three decades ago, her event garnered less than 50 people. This year, over 300 residents attendedHaving Juneteenth recognized in all levels of government can be especially meaningful in places like Marshall County, Dunston says, where Black residents make up less than 3% of the population.It’s weird, Juneteenth feels new but we’re talking about something that happened in 1865,” Dunston said. “But I love that children will know what Juneteenth is and not have to learn about it as an adult like I had to.Having Juneteenth recognized in all levels of government can be especially meaningful in places like Marshall County, Dunston says, where Black residents make up less than 3% of the population.It’s weird, Juneteenth feels new but we’re talking about something that happened in 1865,” Dunston said. “But I love that children will know what Juneteenth is and not have to learn about it as an adult like I had to.

This Juneteenth: Celebrate, then legislate

Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day — marks the day on June 19, 1865, when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, learned about their freedom, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.New Jersey is celebrating Juneteenth as a state holiday this year for the second time. It’s an important gesture, and the celebrations are inspiring. Symbolism matters.But symbolism is not nearly enough.In order to make the promise of freedom full and real, meaningful investment and policy must accompany our proclamations. That is as true today as it was a century and a half ago.Sadly, even two years after our streets were bursting with cries for racial justice, New Jersey has not stepped up to the plate.Despite being a northern state known for its progressivism, the Garden State suffers from . Our racial wealth gap is one of the worst in America, as are our racial disparities relating to incarceration, infant mortality, and education.These gaps can be filled with strategic investments – investments that say we truly believe in freedom realized, not just proclaimed. Yet there are several bills pending in our state legislature lacking legislators’ political will and courage for passage.We must do better.When it comes to policing, the legislature can pass legislation to completely ban chokeholds like the one that killed George Floyd, and to establish civilian review boards to create accountability in law enforcementTo expand our democracy at a time when it is on life support across the nation, New Jersey can pass pending legislation to establish same-day voter registration — the simple, secure ability to register and vote on the same day that would prevent the voter disenfranchisement that occurs at each election.o work toward economic equity, we can pass bills to prohibit discrimination in home appraisals critical step as home ownership is a key driver of wealth. And we can establish a Baby Bonds program to provide low-income youth, many of color, the resources they need to thrive and transition successfully into adulthoodBoth of these bills would help close And finally, to repair the harm from New Jersey’s deep roots in slavery and its lingering aftermath, we can pass pending legislation to create a Reparations Task Force to study our state’s unique equities and propose policy solutions to address them.All of these bills are strategic. They are powerful. And they are doable.Most importantly, they will bring us further along on our ongoing journey toward fulfilling the freedom promised but not completed on that day in 1865.So this Juneteenth, yes — let’s celebrate. But to make that celebration really mean something, let’s also legislate.Please visit our to urge your elected officials to act n

Idaho’s Black communities celebrate Juneteenth with joy, food, dance and community

With live performances, local vendors, food and dance, community members gathered in celebration for the fourth annual “Family Function” Juneteenth event on Saturday at Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise.For a weekend of celebration, Juneteenth Idaho and the Black Liberation Collective partnered with local organizations and Black-owned businesses such as The Honey Pot CBD,  2C Yoga, Honey’s Holistics, Cut-N-Up, Amina’s African Sambusas, among many others. Last year, the state and federal government signed a law designating June 19 known as Juneteenth — as an official holiday. Though it was declared a public holiday only as of last year, Juneteenth has historically been celebrated by Black communities across the country to honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans during the end of the Civil War.On June 19, 1865 — over two years after President (Abraham) Lincoln declared all enslaved people free Maj. General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas,” the federal proclamation declaring the date a federal holiday saidAm I sad that groups like this still exist? Yes. But to me, I would have been more devastated if they were all from Idaho. Most of them came here from somewhere else, and what that says to me is they had to go outside of our community to get their numbers,” Baber said. Baber recommended people step out of their comfort zone as one way Idahoans can make people of color feel safer in their communities.If you pull out your camera, and in every one of your group photos everybody looks only like you, then you’ve probably got some work to do. Step out of your comfort zone and come to these events, support a Black business or go to the Idaho Black Community Alliance website to find over 85 Black businesses located right here in Idaho.”Despite the recent events in North Idaho, this year’s community-wide Juneteenth celebration represents Black residents’ ability to grow and uplift their close-knit community in the state.Juneteenth organizer, Claire-Marie Owens, returned to Idaho after spending 12 years away. She lived in Paris, New York and Dallas, but she decided to come back. Has she considered leaving Idaho permanently because of feeling unwelcome? No. Her identity as a Black woman and an Idaho resident is who she is. My mom’s family has been here for five generations. Idaho is where I am from. It is where I love and where I want to be,” Owens said. 

‘It’s about freedom’: Mount Dora celebrates Juneteenth

People came out Saturday to get food for their bodies, minds and souls at the Juneteenth Celebration at Cauley Lott Park in Mount Dora.For organizer Mae Hazleton, this wasn’t the first celebration of its kind, but it felt like it.Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in 2021, but this, for me, is the inaugural event. Its the first time we’ve come together as a unit to do this in the community of Mount Dora. I think it’s phenomenal,” said Hazleton. “The kids are having fun, the adults are having fun, everyone seems to be joyous even though its hot”The holiday, sometimes referred to as Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day, marks when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and, on June 19, 1865, began enforcing emancipation. The day has been celebrated ever since, but it wasn’t until last year that it officially became a federal holiday the first since Martin Luther King Jr. DayJuneteenth means a celebration and commemoration of the continuing struggle that we have as Black Americans,” said Jamil Davis, the Florida head of Black Voters Matter. “Knowing and understanding that, even though the appearance of freedom has been given to black people, certain restrictions have been put in place to continue to hold us back” Saturday’s event brought together a host of community groups who came to raise awareness of their services. It was co-sponsored by All About the Ballots, GoMountDora, Community Development Corporation of Mount Dora, Black Voters Matter, Black Women’s Roundtable and Peachy Enterprises.People could find information on voter registration, COVID testing, children’s aid and health programs — and were fed barbecue, burgers and hot dogs for free as they learned. Visitors were asked to sign in and briefly visit with each group — no vendors, only free community services — and when they had made the rounds there were ribs and chicken courtesy of T&C Barbecue. The Mount Dora Police Department also brought their food truck which was manned by staff from Pisces Rising.Lillian Rodriguez with the Lake County Health Department said some people were surprised with the variety of ways the health department can help.I have a variety of resources, everything from nutrition and exercising to preventing chronic diseases. We also have information if someone is going through a hardship and they need some information such as a food pantry list, or where they can get employment or financial services,” said Rodriguez. Diana Rivera, an English teacher at Mount Dora Middle School, said its important for her to learn all she can about local aid groups.It’s always good as a teacher to know, because you when come across a child who’s struggling you have all these things and you can call somebody. It’s a community effort to get these kids where they need to be,” Rivera said. Singer Ruth King added soulful tunes about consciousness and the need to come together — and the joy that brings. Soul Therapy offered a funkier side to afternoon. While the adults danced, children kept cool on a large water slide or climbed a rock wall. While everyone enjoyed the foo and did their best to avoid the afternoon heat — the sense of unity and shared commitment was palpable. People crowded a booth to register to vote then hugged each other before sitting down to eat together as a new community.Juneteenth is about freedom, and there are still freedoms that the African-American community doesn’t enjoy — being healthy, wealthy and wise,” said Hazleton. “We want you to learn about the community and what we are offering, but we also want you to enjoy the food. Feed your mind, then feed your body

Nashville businesses, residents honoring Juneteenth through Monday

Celebrations of freedom took over Middle Tennessee streets this weekend in honor of Juneteenth.This year marks the second annual federal observance of the holiday. But Juneteenth has long been celebrated by Black people in America to mark the moment that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were finally informed of their freedom, two years after Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.Outside All People Coffee & Beverage Hall at the corner of Douglas and Lischey avenues in East Nashville, owners of the Black-owned café held a Juneteenth Block Party Sunday.We wanted to bring awareness to the holiday and celebrate other Black businesses too,” All People co-owner Bradley Bruce said, standing among booths manned by vendors of all sorts, including those selling body care products, self-defense tools, popsicles, baked goods and more.Purchased by Nashville officials in 1912, Hadley Park was the first park bought by Metro Nashville intended for people of color and is considered to be the first public park for African Americans, according to the state’s history marker.  However, it was also built on the land of a plantation once owned by the slave-owning Hadley family. Hundreds gathered there in unity, dance and even prayer for the entirety of the afternoon.Celebrations will continue into the late afternoon and evening across Nashville, like at the Juneteenth Block Party at Fifth & Broadway’s Assembly Food Hall and “Juneteenth615” at Fort Negley in South Nashville

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