6 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Juneteenth

Jun 19, 2023 1:08:16 PM About Blue Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Posted By: Sam Crist

Juneteenth graphic with yellow, black and green to match the Juneteenth flag

Founded on the core values of community, respect, advocacy and development, the Blue Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Council aims to promote education and awareness across the organization and to provide a safe space where open dialogues and information sharing is welcome among all team members. 

It is through this organization that we provide educational resources such as trainings or articles that we celebrate and teach about important holidays such as Juneteenth.

6 Facts You Might Not Have Known About Juneteenth.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth or June 19th is known as “Freedom Day”, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were free.

As our history buffs might know, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1862 and was official as of Jan. 1, 1863… why did the Union soldiers announce this two years later?

According to the Society for Public Health Education website, once the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, there weren’t actually enough Union troops to enforce the new executive order in states such as Texas, where there were large crops that needed to be harvested. It wasn’t until General Lee surrendered in April of 1865, that Union forces were strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance of white slave owners. 

Months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the final four border states that had not been subjected to President Abraham Lincoln’s order.

Juneteenth was only made a federal holiday in 2021!

On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the bill that makes Juneteenth a legal public holiday, which was further approved by the White House on June 17, 2021.  

Martin Luther King’s Birthday was the last national holiday established.

The fight to make the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday a holiday took 32 years, a lot of campaigning, and a variety of influencers.

King’s birthday was finally approved as a federal holiday by President Ronald Regan in November 1983. The first federal King holiday was celebrated in 1986.

This was the last federal holiday that was approved by a President until Juneteenth in 2021.

Juneteenth officially became a Texas state holiday on January 1, 1980.

According to the Congressional Research Service, on January 1, 1980, Juneteenth officially became a Texas state holiday. Al Edwards a freshman state representative put forward the bill H.B. 1016 making Texas the first state to grant this emancipation celebration. According to the same document, since then, 45 other states and the District of Columbia have also commemorated the day.

How do people celebrate Juneteenth?

According to a PBS article, Juneteenth festivities have historically been celebrated through cookouts and barbecues; however, since becoming a nationally recognized holiday in 2021, it is now celebrated by local street festivals, fairs, concerts and other events.

A quick Google search will show you any Juneteenth celebrations happening in your area.

Juneteenth Celebrations at Blue

At this time, Blue does not offer Juneteenth as a national holiday, however, in an effort to celebrate and honor African American heritage, Blue offers a "floating" holiday which can be used on Juneteenth or other holidays that are not recognized firmwide.

Learn more about the DE&I Council at Blue

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council is an Employee Resource Group open to all Blue & Co employees. We encourage an environment of inclusivity regardless of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information. Our goal is to educate and develop all employees to be promoted and contribute to their full potential.


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