Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday in America. However, many may not know the history behind it.
Local leaders we spoke with say Juneteenth isn’t just black history. It’s American history that acknowledges the freedom of the enslaved.
“Back in 1863, there was the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln,” said Bishop Dwane Brock, the CEO of Eagle’s Nest Leadership Corp. “And then two years after then, of course, the southern states did not comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Brock said after Lincoln’ declaration, that’s when a general in the Union Army declared freedom for the slaves in the area of Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1866. The country celebrated it as Liberation Day, Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, and now a federal holiday — Juneteenth.
Brock said slavery is a devastating enigma in American history, and it’s an original sin of America.
“We feel the strain and the effects of slavery even today,” he said.
Erie County councilman Andre Horton of the legislative 2nd district, said this is a footnote along the path to what American history could be.
“They wave the Confederate flag on January 6th on our nation’s capital,” Horton said. “So, for us to be celebrating Juneteenth whil that is still going on, it’s really some type of paradoxical irony.”
Horton said the holiday is the rally cry of the generational civil rights movement in America.
“Justice delayed… justice denied and Juneteenth is an acknowledgement of free people [that] the state of Texas denied their freedom for another two years.”
The City of Erie will host an official event to celebrate the holiday on Saturday.
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