Juneteenth: The history and significance of the holiday

Juneteenth: The history and significance of the holiday
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 21:00:26-04

LAFAYETTE — Juneteenth is one step closer to becoming a federal holiday, after being passed by the Senate Tuesday night and the House on Wednesday.

The bill now will have to be signed by the president. Governor Edwards made Juneteenth a holiday in Louisiana by signing a bill into law last week.

Juneteenth would commemorate June 19th, 1865. That was years after the emancipation proclamation was signed when the news finally reached slaves in Galveston.

It's a day that's been recognized and honored for generations and some hope a federal holiday will bring change to how history is taught.

"We have always looked at Juneteenth as a as an American holiday, not a black holiday. An American holiday," Abram Freeman with the SWLA Juneteenth Committee said.

For some, Juneteenth is considered a second independence day. Freeman has hosted celebrations to commemorate the day for years. He says it's a way to educate others and bring awareness. However, the day's significance was amplified in 2020 over protests highlighting racial inequality.

"People are like, we've got to make a change if we're going to live in a society where the American Dream is available for everyone," Freeman said. "There must be a change. And people stood up and demanded it. What happened is during the last four years, the wounds that America have became exposed.

Young folks started saying there must be a change. We're talking about young people from every spectrum of society. That's what sparked it all."
Freeman says the action in congress is a historic moment.

"I have been on such a cloud right now," Freeman said. "We have for the last 40 years been trying to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Now we feel somewhat vindicated in a way, and at the same time. Now I feel like I'm an American. I feel really good."

Freeman is hosting an event this weekend in honor of the holiday. Click here for more information.

There are several events happening across Acadiana as well, click here for more information.