As we work to address racial inequity in our own backyard, we must also reflect on our nation’s difficult history impacting our Black neighbors.
This week, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Largely a day of cultural celebration today, its roots wind back to a period of prolonged slavery in the American South and the impact of freedom.
On June 19, 1865, about two months after the end of the Civil War, word arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom. Though the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, the end of the war finally enforced the new executive order in slave-holding border states.
Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day or Emancipation Day — is celebrated in communities across the country, from small family gatherings to public parades and festivals.
With the unrest that swept our country last year stemming from the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and historically many others, Juneteenth also became an opportunity for local communities and organized groups to use their platforms to advocate for racial justice and social change through protests and marches.
These same concerns led to the formation of the Greenville Racial Equity & Economic Mobility (REEM) Commission last summer. The REEM Commission exists to identify and address racial inequities, social injustice, and disparities in key areas that negatively impact the Black community in Greenville County. Click here to learn more about the commission.
The United Way of Greenville County office is closed this Friday, June 18, to honor Juneteenth and give our team an opportunity to reflect and learn more. Join us by diving into the resources below:
- History: What Is Juneteenth?
- “What is Juneteenth?” by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
- New York Times: So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth?
- Vox: Juneteenth, Explained
- PBS: Juneteenth Jamboree
- Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming (Hulu)
- VICE: Slavery After Freedom
- 13th (Netflix)
Interested in celebrating Juneteenth locally? Here are a few public events this weekend in Greenville County:
The Peace Center’s 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration of Black Excellence
Friday, June 18 – Sunday, June 20
Peace Center | 300 South Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601
Juneteenth CommUNITY Celebration at Phillis Wheatley Community Center
Saturday, June 19 | 1–4 p.m.
Phillis Wheatley Community Center | 40 John McCarroll Way, Greenville, SC 29607
Urban League of the Upstate Juneteenth Community Cookout
Saturday, June 19 | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Long Branch Baptist Church | 28 Bolt Street, Greenville, SC 29605
For more information, contact Kim Arnold or Angie Anderson-Moton at (864)244-3862 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wits End Poetry: Juneteenth Open Mic
Sunday, June 20 | 7:30–9 p.m.
Coffee Underground | 1 E Coffee Street, Greenville, SC 29601