By Sharon Aron Baron
Juneteenth — short for June 19th, is an important day to remember in America’s history.
The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, had established that all enslaved people in the Confederate States in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
However, more than two years would pass before the news reached African-Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished.
Today, about 46 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state or ceremonial holiday. Texas was the first state to make it a paid holiday in 1980, and in October, New York, and Virginia joined the list.
After Deerfield Beach, Tamarac is the second city to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday in Broward County. On October 20th, Miami-Dade County made Juneteenth a paid holiday for county employees.
“This is an important day,” said Commissioner Mike Gelin. “Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom for those that helped to build this country and a testament to the sacrifices and long struggle for equality in America.”
Al Edwards, a civil rights activist and former Houston legislator who helped Texas become the first state in the country to make the abolition of slavery an official holiday, died in April this year at 83.
Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday,” he is quoted as saying.
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