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Juneteenth 2022: Black Independence Day

By: France-Elvie Banda
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
On June 19th, 1865, Union troops rode to Galveston, Tex., to announce the ending of slavery. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, over 25,000 enslaved Africans in Texas were finally informed of their freedom, and legalized chattel slavery in the U.S. was formally abolished across the country. 

Juneteenth, a combination of June and 19 to honor the date the decree was made, has remained a momentous celebration for African Americans, with official celebrations beginning in 1866. Often referred to as Black Independence Day, it is the longest running African American holiday and one of the oldest U.S. holidays. 

In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official state holiday. Since then, nine states have officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday and on June 17th, 2021, President Biden declared Juneteenth an official national holiday. Generations of African Americans have historically celebrated Juneteenth by holding pageants and parades in finely dressed clothing, a luxury denied to enslaved people. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the early Juneteenth celebrations also held political rallies to teach newly freed African Americans about their voting rights. 

Juneteenth invites us as a nation to honor and support the legacy of enslaved and freed African Americans, their evolving battles against social and systemic racism, and historic progress and contributions to date.  

Below are a few resources to help FASEB member societies commemorate Juneteenth and the accomplishments of Black scientists:
•    Taking Time to Reflect: How to Celebrate Juneteenth
•    Juneteenth: Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sound, and Experience of an African American Celebration
•    National Museum of African American History | Juneteenth Reading List
•    Forbes| From The Hospital To The Lab, Black Scientists Are Fighting COVID-19 
•    34 highly influential African American scientists