CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (CLARKSVILLENOW)- Some people may have began [sic] to hear about Juneteenth celebrations- some for the first time. What is Juneteenth and why is there a new resurgence of interest in celebrating the holiday. [sic]
On Thursday, June 18th, 2020, Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts signed a proclamation recognizing June 19th, 2020 as, Juneteenth and a local holiday.
In part the proclamation reads:
WHEREAS, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and celebrates the successes gained through education and greater opportunity; and
WHEREAS, on a larger scale, celebration of Juneteenth reminds each of us of the precious promises of freedom, equality, and opportunity which are at the core of the American Dream; and
WHEREAS, our nation and community are engaged today in a renewed, intense and important affirmation of justice and equality for all citizens, regardless of race, creed or ethnicity;
Now, Therefore, I, Joe Pitts, Mayor of the City of Clarksville, do hereby proclaim June 19, 2020, as Juneteenth in Clarksville, and urge all citizens to become more aware of the significance of this celebration in AfricanAmerican History and in the heritage of our nation and City.
To read the proclamation in its entirety click here.
What is Juneteenth?
Friday, June 19, marks the 155th anniversary of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas, with orders that all slaves in Texas were free in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation.
President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation and it went into effect officially on Jan. 1, 1863.
However, 2 1/2 years later, Texas still had African-Americans enslaved. According to Juneteenth.com, the Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on Texans due to minimal number of Union troops to enforce the executive order ending slavery.
Major General Gordon Granger, led union soldiers to Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
On June 19, 1865, General Granger and his military force arrived in Galveston, Texas and the forces were strong enough to overcome resistance to the Emancipation Proclamation.
The reasons for why it took so long for the news to reach Texas ranged from the messenger being murdered to a deliberate withholding of information to maintain labor forces on the plantation to allow one last cotton harvest. The actual reason is unknown, according to Juneteenth.com.
What does Juneteenth mean?
Juneteenth is a combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” in honor of the day that Granger announced the abolition of slavery in Texas. The holiday is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day
People throughout Texas started celebrating the event every year starting in 1866, and the celebration spread throughout the South, eventually becoming a widely recognized holiday many call Juneteenth.
The celebration is also known as Freedom Day and Jubilee Day.
In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Today, 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, while efforts to make it a national holiday have so far stalled in Congress.
In Tennessee, a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday is under consideration by the current session of the Tennessee General Assembly.
How was it celebrated?
Juneteenth commemorations featured music, barbecues, prayer services and other activities, and as black people migrated from Texas to other parts of the country the Juneteenth tradition spread, according to history.com.
According to some historians, red foods – strawberry soda, watermelon, red velvet cake – are part of Juneteenth celebrations to symbolize the blood shed in the struggle for freedom.
The holiday is commemorated today through community events and family parties.
Why more interest in 2020?
LaNeeca Williams, chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator at Austin Peay State University said Juneteenth 2020 represents much more.
“Juneteenth is the most conspicuous Emancipation Day holiday in the United States. It commemorates a moment in history that still remains relatively obscure,” Williams said. ” The holiday highlights how freedom and justice in the United States have always been delayed for black people. Many years after the end of the (Civil) war, there would be a wave of lynching, imprisonment and Jim Crow laws. The unequal impact of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, and a lack of economic investment followed.”
Today, as national attention remains focused on acts of police brutality and racial incidents, it is clear that while progress has been made in black America over 100 years of suppression, considerable barriers continue to impede that progress, Williams said.
“In recent weeks it is has become even more evident that freedom and justice are essential for all people,” Williams said. “These are definitely challenging times in our country. However, it is invigorating to see campus members come together and fight injustice on so many different levels to ensure freedom and justice for all in the true spirit of Juneteenth.”
Juneteenth in Clarksville
- Kelvin Bennet, owner of Train 36TY on Riverside Drive, is hosting a “Juneteenth Pop-up Shop” to celebrate and showcase black-owned businesses in the Clarksville and Middle Tenn. area.More than 16 local black-owned businesses and vendors will be present with apparel, products and services available for purchase and review. Also, this will be a great opportunity to network and find more information on growing businesses . BBQ plates will also be available for purchase.
The event will be held on Friday, June 19th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Train36TY, 323 N Riverside Drive, in Clarksville.