Governor Jay Inslee has officially declared Juneteenth a state holiday in Washington. This is a historic move by state legislature in advancing efforts to create more equitable communities and organizations. Beginning June 19, 2022, Juneteenth will be a paid holiday for state employees. HB 1016, Representative Melanie Morgan, the primary sponsor of the House bill conveyed, “It’s much more than that.”
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth or June 19th is a powerful moment in Black history dating back to June 19, 1865. While Juneteenth has become the most prominent Emancipation Day holiday in the US, it commemorates a smaller moment that remains relatively obscure. It does not mark the signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which technically freed slaves in the rebelling Confederate states, nor does it commemorate the December 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment, which enshrined the end of slavery into the Constitution. Rather, it marks the moment when emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy.
Why is it important?
While Juneteenth marks the moment when emancipation finally reached those in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy, it previously was only observed in Texas, Louisiana and California. Now, as other states begin declaring it a state holiday with a day off work, awareness is increasing. Further, this serves as a reminder that there is still much more work to be done in addressing the many systemic barriers that remain for the Black community. One of the first steps in each of our individual journeys of advocacy involves listening and learning. At the University of Washington, observing Juneteenth is one opportunity to practice this in action.
How to observe Juneteenth
- Spread the word and talk about Juneteenth. Leverage the info above and the resources below to do so.
- Attend a flag-raising event: Raising of the Pan-African flag at UW on Saturday, June 19, 2021, at 10 a.m. at the south end of Memorial Way on campus.
- Attend the Northwest African American Museum’s series of events commemorating Juneteenth.
- Consider giving through the UWCFD to member organizations actively working to remove systemic barriers to Black opportunity and support communities in which Black voices and lives matter.
Listen to a podcast:
- Centering Blackness: A World Re-imagined
- Pod Save America: Juneteenth
- Psychobabble: “Let’s Talk About Race”
- Mixed Company Podcast
- Unlocking Us with Brené Brown: “Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist”
- Watch a YouTube video: This Is Why Juneteenth Is Important for America
- “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi
- “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
- “My Vanishing Country” by Bakari Sellers
- “We Were Eight Years in Power” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “Black Pain” by Terrie Williams
- “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
- “Here I Stand” by Paul Robeson
- “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson
- “The Strange Career of Jim Crow” by C. Vann Woodward
- “Mirror to America” by John Hope Franklin
- “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist
- “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America” by W. Caleb McDaniel