What is Juneteenth?

"On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln."

The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

The first June 19 celebration was in 1866, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. African Americans celebrated with prayer services, speakers with inspirational messages, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, stories from former slaves, food, red soda water, games, rodeos, and dances.

June 19, 2021 marks the 156th anniversary of the last African American slaves being freed in Texas. June 17th, 2021, President Biden signed into law Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, S. 475, creating a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth.

Banks- Green
● 1865- The United States chartered the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Co. The bank only lasted a few years due to rampant corruption and a financial panic the year prior. It shut its doors for good in 1874. Savings accounts, at this point, were not backed by any assurances which left many of its customers with nothing, including school children who had been encouraged to create accounts.
● 1934- Federal Housing Association was founded. They created a policy of “redlining” which assigned a category to neighborhoods all across the country. This allowed banks to discriminate against Black home buyers by claiming Black neighborhoods were high risk. At the same time, many of the new and “desirable” (term used by banks to describe predominantly white, non-immigrant, areas) neighborhoods upheld strict rules of segregation, often barring non-white people from purchasing a property. This practice was technically made illegal in 1968, although it continues in more subtle ways to this day.
● Today, among other problems, banks tend to open branches more frequently in predominantly white neighborhoods as compared to Black or Latinx neighborhoods.

Education- Yellow
● Antebellum- Basic literacy was illegal in most states for enslaved people. Many states banned literacy following Nat Turner’s Rebellion, blaming it on Nat’s ability to read.
● Reconstruction- The Freedmen's Bureau attempted to set up schools across the south and were often met with opposition. Schools that were set up almost always were run by white teachers. The general belief of educated white people at the time, supported by faux science, was that Black people could not be educated to the same standard as white people. Jim Crow laws enforced segregation in all institutions including schools.
● 1930s- The NAACP launched a campaign for equal access to funding in schools after research found an enormous funding gap between Black and white students and that less than 20% of Black teenagers were enrolled in school.
● 1954- Schools were desegregated. However, this prompted a national move to expensive private schools that prevented many Black students from attending due to costs or requirements created to act as a barrier. Private schools could offer higher wages and attracted better teachers creating a further educational imbalance.
● Today, issues of funding inequality and access to education persist.

● 1932- The Tuskegee Experiment recruited 600 Black men with the promise of free healthcare to study “treatments for bad blood.” In reality, the researchers were looking for a cure for syphilis and intended to study it over its full progression. The men were only given placebos as they experienced the worst of the disease and even died. This continued even after treatment was discovered years into the study.
● 1960s &1970s- The Black Panther Party organized free medical clinics.
● Today inequality in healthcare persists in many ways, including that many medical standards that are based on white men.