The End of Slavery: Should the U.S. Formally Celebrate Juneteenth?
Should the U.S. formally celebrate Juneteenth?
by Countable | 6.18.19
What's the story?
- For many Americans, June 19th is known as Juneteenth. This day commemorates the emancipation of the United States’ last remaining slaves.
- It is also known as "Juneteenth Independence Day," the idea being that the 4th of July commemorates the independence of only European-descended Americans.
- 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 45 states plus the District of Columbia.
- Even after the Emancipation Proclamation technically ended slavery on January 1, 1863, it took another two years for that fact to reach 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 58,000 enslaved people within the United States. The GSI defines slavery as any kind of forced exploitation, including labor trafficking — seen in 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.
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
(Photo Credit: Austin Public Library / Public Domain)
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