Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates freedom and progress. In fact, it’s often called our nation’s “second independence day.” But it’s also a day we acknowledge the struggles of prejudice and oppression that continue for the Black community. If you’re not familiar with the history of Juneteenth and why it’s celebrated, we believe it’s a day worth learning about.
Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 to declare the enslaved in Confederate states as free, all of them were not immediately freed. The Civil War was still being fought, so the message and reality of this freedom wasn’t enforced until much later. In fact, June 19, 1865 was when the announcement made by army troops in Galveston, Texas emancipated more than 250,000 enslaved people in the state. Slavery was officially abolished throughout the U.S. when the 13th Amendment was adopted in December 1865. The first Juneteenth jubilee celebration happened on June 19 of the following year.
While those are some of the historical facts, they don’t tell the details of hardship, pain, and loss for those who were enslaved and generations of their descendants. As Juneteenth’s observance grows in support, it is becoming more recognized as a day for us all to not only learn about the history and culture that shapes it, but to reflect on what it looks like for freedom to serve the well-being of each person and how we work towards that goal. For this reason, we’ve rounded up some quotes, below, that speak to personal experiences in order to remind and inspire us to achieve a better future for all.
- "Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation." - Coretta Scott King
- "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." - Desmond Tutu
- "There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made." - Michelle Obama
- "You can't separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." - Malcolm X
- “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” - Fannie Lou Hamer
- “The time is always right to do what is right.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” - Rosa Parks
- “Whether it’s freedom to express, freedom to live, freedom to earn, freedom to thrive, freedom to learn, whatever it is, I want to make sure that I’m a part of these spaces and opening doors.” - Angela Rye
- “Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.” - Kwame Nkrumah
- Who are we as human beings if we ignore the suffering of others?
- Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life.
- On the other side of fear lies freedom.
- Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.
- If you cannot find faith in humanity, be the faith in humanity.
If you’re looking to learn more about Juneteenth and its importance, we like this list of Fascinating Facts about Juneteenth.