Although Juneteenth has yet to be declared a federal holiday, it’s more important than ever to know the history of Black Americans. We acknowledge that our actions and inactions have negatively impacted Minnesota’s Black founders and are committed to doing better because #blacklivesmatter to us at BETA.
This year we honor and celebrate #Juneteenth by better educating ourselves and others on the history of the holiday.
WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?
Juneteenth is an unofficial holiday that commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger's reading of federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on 19 June 1865, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were now free.
The holiday has lived on through rich traditions, including lively celebrations in the form of festivals and parades with local bands playing, storytelling, and picnics.
WHY IS JUNETEENTH SO IMPORTANT?
When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, slavery still existed in America. So the Fourth of July holiday has always felt slightly tainted for many in the Black community.
In fact, Black people were not declared free for another 87 years. And even still, it took an additional 2 years beyond Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation for the last enslaved people to be freed in Galveston, TX.
June 19, 1865 – Juneteenth – is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
HOW IS JUNETEENTH CELEBRATED?
Juneteenth was originally celebrated in Texas, on June 19, 1866. It marked the first anniversary of the day that African Americans there first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after it was initially issued. The holiday was originally celebrated with prayer meetings and by singing spirituals and wearing new clothes to represent newfound freedom. Within a few years, African Americans were celebrating Juneteenth in other states, making it an annual tradition.
Celebrations in the United States typically include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and picnics, and festivals with food, music, and dancing. The day is also celebrated outside the United States and is used to recognize the end of slavery across the world as well as to celebrate African American culture and achievements.
As an entrepreneurial ecosystem, we have a responsibility to apply our expertise, resources, and ability to connect people statewide to drive action that is sustainable and has meaning. We are committed to do more and do better in centering the voices and experiences of our Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color. If you are a founder who wants to do more in this area, we encourage you to reach out with questions or concerns, and we can work together to establish inclusive practices and cultures.
We hope that you will join us in commemorating Juneteenth. There are resources available from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture for more information.