The End of Slavery: Should the U.S. Formally Celebrate Juneteenth?
Should Americans formally celebrate Juneteenth?
What's the story?
- For many Americans, June 19th is known as "Juneteenth," a day commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
- It is also known as "Juneteenth Independence Day," the idea being that the 4th of July only commemorates the independence of European-descended Americans.
- This year, protesters plan to mark Juneteenth with demonstrations against racism and police brutality.
- In 1997, Congress issued a joint resolution noting that the observance of Juneteenth is “an important and enriching part of our country’s history and heritage.” However, Juneteenth is not a federally recognized holiday.
- Juneteenth is officially recognized or observed in 47 states plus the District of Columbia.
- Though the Emancipation Proclamation technically ended slavery on January 1, 1863, it took another two years until it reached all enslaved people. Juneteenth commemorates the day on which emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy.
- Despite the great strides the United States has made since then, slavery within our borders persists to this day.
- According to the Global Slavery Index, there are still 403,000 people living in modern slavery within the United States. The GSI defines slavery as any kind of forced exploitation, including labor trafficking (domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales crews, restaurant and food service, and health and beauty service) as well as sex trafficking.
- The Atlantic reports that aspects of U.S. immigration law enable modern slavery.
- Meanwhile, African slaves’ descendants and other people of color still face racial inequality today, whether in housing discrimination, disproportionate incarceration rates, income disparities, or myriad other aspects of daily life.
- African Americans are at much higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than the rest of the U.S. population. Blacks are also much more likely than white people to die from the novel coronavirus.
What do you think?
What actions, if any, should our elected representatives take to eliminate slavery and discrimination in the United States? Take action above and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy & Josh Herman
(Photo Credit: Austin Public Library / Public Domain)
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