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A brief history of Juneteenth

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Nearly everyone is aware that America’s Independence Day falls on the Fourth of July. However, there is another Independence Day that has gone relatively unknown by Americans for more than 150 years. That day is Juneteenth.

Bondage was abolished in Confederate States when President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.

Due to limited communication and only a small presence of Union forces in the Confederacy, not all slaves were informed of their freedom until two and a half years later.

June 19, 1865 marked the day Union Army General Gordon Granger informed the Black people of Galveston, TX that they were free.

“It’s good to have,” Dr. Theodore Randall, Indiana University - South Bend’s coordinator of African American Studies, said. “It recognizes the phenomenon that slaves were freed five weeks after the Civil War. So, that’s important.”

Slavery was still legal in Union border states until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865.

President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making it a federal holiday. He and Vice President Kamala Harris says it’s important to acknowledge this day.

“We must learn from our history,” Vice President Harris said. “We must teach our children our history. Because it is part of our history as a nation. It is part of American history.”

There are several Juneteenth celebrations happening in Michiana tomorrow.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County will host Juneteenth at the club tomorrow from noon to 3 p.m. at the O.C. Carmichael Jr. Youth Center in South Bend.

There will also be a celebration at LaSalle Park in South Bend from noon to 5 p.m., and in Howard Park from 2 to 9 p.m.

And in Elkhart, there’s a celebration from 5 to 11 p.m. tomorrow.

Additionally, Notre Dame President, Father John Jenkins, released a statement in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday, saying in part, “Today, as we commemorate the effective end of slavery in our nation, we recognize that we have much more work to do to ensure that every person, regardless of race, is afforded the dignity that comes from being made in the image and likeness of god.

“While we at Notre Dame pause to recognize Juneteenth this weekend, we commit ourselves to creating an inclusive community on campus and an equitable society at large.”

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