Juneteenth is a celebration that honors family, community, and freedom. The word "Juneteenth" is a combination of the word "June" and the number "nineteen" to signify the month and day (June 19, 1865) that U.S. Army General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and enslaved Africans were free. The very first Juneteenth celebrations represented the possibility of reuniting with loved ones, the magnitude of choice and personal autonomy, and most of all the freedom to heal, live, and love fully and completely. Learn about the history here.
Over the last 157 years, Juneteenth has grown in national recognition, with at least 47 states commemorating the day in some form. In Colorado, the Denver City Council declared on February 22, 2021, that Juneteenth would be an official commemorative holiday in the city, elevating the celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. from the status of a ceremonial holiday.
The celebration was officially recognized four months later, when President Joe Biden signed a bill on June 17, 2021, making it a federal holiday, the first national holiday established since Martin Luther King’s Birthday (January 15, observed on the third Monday of January each year) in 1983.
"Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments. They don't ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them," Biden said at the White House signing. "Great nations don't walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger."
Festivities for Juneteenth historically occur annually on the third weekend of June to coincide with or as close to the 19th day of the month as possible and can be found across the state in the cities of Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Denver Metro Area, Erie, Grand Junction, Loveland, and Westminster.
Juneteenth is NOT just another summer festival...but a way to celebrate a historical transition that started the process (the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States on December 6, 1865) of declaring a final and resolute "good riddance" to chattel slavery in the United States.
Why should the holiday matter to you?
Juneteenth is not a Black holiday. Chattel slavery practiced in the United States has/had long and lingering effects on EVERYONE no matter your ethnicity. To celebrate the freedom of thousands that were still enslaved in one of the last slavery-supporting states is to acknowledge the sacrifice, horror, and trauma, but also to honor the humanity, courage, love, and beauty of the people that survived. Below are three easy ways you can celebrate the holiday today, on June 19th, or all year long.
Attend an Event
Juneteenth Music Festival
Saturday, June 18-19, Welton Street Cultural District, Denver
Denver Public Library Events
Juneteenth: The Latest Word on Freedom
Saturday, June 4, 1 p.m.
Park Hill Branch Library
Soul Food Scholar and author, Adrian Miller presents an overview of the various Emancipation celebrations that emerged in the nineteenth century and what they meant to African Americans.
Juneteenth Block Party
Saturday, June 11, 1 p.m.
Ford-Warren Branch Library
Gather together to celebrate freedom, family, and heritage. Join us for a block party to celebrate Juneteenth, America’s second independence day!
Thursday, June 16, 3 p.m.
Pauline Robinson Branch Library
Join us as we learn about Juneteenth through games, videos, and discussion.
Juneteenth Kindness Rocks
Saturday, June 18, 12 p.m.
Bob Ragland Branch Library
Join us as we paint rocks to celebrate Juneteenth! Leave them around Five Points for people to find around town.
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Reflection: Education Yourself and Family
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