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When and Why the US Federal Holiday Juneteenth Is Celebrated

by CiCi
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Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 19, this year. Several Seattle-area organizations held Juneteenth events over the weekend, honoring the historical legacy of this significant day.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. Before becoming an official title, it was known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. The holiday celebrates the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Texas—the last Confederate state—officially abolished slavery.

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Why is it called Juneteenth?

The name Juneteenth is a blend of “June” and “nineteenth,” the date of the holiday. This name evolved from earlier terms like Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.

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Is Juneteenth a U.S. federal holiday?

Yes, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in June 2021. During President Joe Biden’s first year in office, the House of Representatives passed the legislation with an overwhelming majority (415 to 14), and President Biden signed it into law the following day.

When did Juneteenth become a U.S. federal holiday?

Juneteenth was designated a federal holiday in June 2021. The date had become contentious in 2020 when the Trump administration initially scheduled a major campaign event on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma—a site of a significant massacre of Black residents in 1921. Following backlash, the event was rescheduled to June 20 out of respect.

Why do people eat red food on Juneteenth?

Red foods symbolize the resilience of African Americans throughout their journey to freedom. Common red foods include red velvet cake, hibiscus tea, strawberry soda, strawberries, and watermelon, which are in peak season during the holiday.

Is there a Juneteenth flag?

Yes, the Juneteenth flag was created by Ben Haith in 1997. The red, white, and blue colors symbolize that African Americans were always Americans, even during enslavement. The flag features a five-point star, representing freedom for Black Americans, and a zigzag shape around the star, symbolizing a new horizon and promise for Black Americans.

What does the zigzag shape around the star on the Juneteenth flag mean?

The five-point star in the center of the flag represents freedom for Black Americans in all 50 states. The zigzag-shaped outline around the star signifies a new horizon and a new promise for Black Americans.

What is closed on Juneteenth?

Mail Delivery: The United States Postal Service (USPS) will suspend deliveries for the day.

Banks: Most banks will be closed as the Federal Reserve observes Juneteenth. Check with local branches for specific hours.

Government Offices: All federal offices and schools will be closed. Some state government offices may remain open.

Retail: Retail stores have the discretion to operate, adjust hours, or close on Juneteenth. It’s advisable to check the hours of operation for your intended location. Several large corporations, including Target, Twitter, and Nike, have granted their staff a paid day off to observe Juneteenth in previous years.

Seattle-area Organizations Honor Juneteenth

Several Seattle-area organizations hosted Juneteenth events on Saturday, celebrating the holiday’s historical legacy. These events included educational activities, cultural performances, and community gatherings to honor the significance of this federal holiday.

Juneteenth not only celebrates freedom but also serves as a reminder of the ongoing journey toward equality and justice for all.

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