150 Years of Celebrating Freedom Once again, we are on the cusp of one of the world’s oldest holidays that celebrates the ending of slavery in America.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas with news of liberation. Unbeknownst to most people, this news was sorely delayed after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that he made two and a half years previously on January 1, 1863. This was due to the lack of enforcement available in Texas to enforce this executive order. Only after the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, did Union soldiers have the power to enforce the freedom of all slaves. ###Juneteenth Traditions There is much folklore and mystique that lies in the true origins of the delay. The early celebrations of Juneteenth were primarily comprised of former slaves and their families from near and far. Even to this very day, people of all ages travel hundreds of miles to celebrate this holiday at its very roots in Galveston. Prayer has always played an integral role in the celebrations, but activities also included: - fishing - baseball - heaping servings of deliciously barbecued meats - rodeos (with black cowboys) - side dishes cooked with soul Attendees wash down finger-licking good food with an icy, cold traditional strawberry soda (or red soda) Juneteenth is also a time for African Americans to take a peek into the past through the tales recounted by people who were directly affected by slavery, conjuring spirit of gratitude and inspiration for younger generations. One of the most held traditions of Juneteenth is the reading of the Proclamation. The reading of the Proclamation coupled with prayer marks the beginning of the festivities for the day.

Cherished hymns and songs such as Lift Every Voice and Sing are sung and soul-stirring poetry reminiscent of the days of slavery are read throughout the day. Traditional games and even a Miss Juneteenth Pageant are some of the exciting highlights of the day. In some cities you will find reenactments of the times events surrounding Juneteenth, lively parades, more musical entertainment, family reunions, and family-fun fairs. Juneteenth is a day to be truly embraced and celebrated. A day in which we take time (and a fun time at that) to remember exactly why we have the privilege to celebrate at all. A reason to lift our voices, sing, and cut a rug or too! This is the perfect day to surrender modern distractions and recognize what’s genuinely important in life. How do you and your family celebrate Juneteenth? Do you have a unique story about your Juneteenth celebration you would like to share? We would love to hear your stories, so please feel free to leave a comment below and may your Juneteenth celebration to the best ever this

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