We have written about a few Pan-African holidays that should be celebrated all over the world, and Juneteent should be one of them.
Now, this news is coming out of Virginia in the United States. Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he will propose making Juneteenth — a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. — an official holiday in a state that was once home to the capital of the Confederacy.
Juneteenth, which is also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, is celebrated annually on June 19. Texas first made it a state holiday in 1980.
“It’s time we elevate this,” Northam said of the June 19 commemoration. “Not just a celebration by and for some Virginians but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”
The holiday would be a paid day off for all state employees. Northam said he thinks Virginia would be only the second state to do so.
Northam was joined Tuesday at his news conference by musician Pharrell Williams, who is from Virginia. “This is a very special moment,” Williams said.
The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to bring the news that slavery had been abolished, former slaves celebrated.
President Donald Trump announced last week that he has rescheduled a campaign rally that was planned in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Juneteenth. The announcement of the rally had sparked an outcry because Tulsa was the site of one of the worst instances of racial violence in U.S. history in 1921, when hundreds of African Americans were massacred by a white mob that burned black-owned businesses and homes.
The rest of the United States should follow the example set by the state of Virginia. Black hands built the United States of America. The least they can do is formally acknowledge our contribution.
Do you believe Juneteenth should be a national or international Pan-African Holiday? Leave a comment below.