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.
In 2021, the United States made 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 in 2020 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 in 2020. 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 on Monday, June 19, 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
- NPR: A History of Juneteenth
- New York Times: The History and Meaning of Juneteenth
- The “1619” Podcast
- 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:
Juneteenth at Unity Park
Friday, June 17 | 4 p.m.
Prisma Health Welcome Center at Unity Park
Juneteenth GVL Mega Fest
Saturday, June 18 | 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration
Sunday, June 19 | 2–7 p.m.
TD Stage at the Peace Center