Juneteenth a Federal Holiday……… Voters take a Bow!

          “Hands that once picked cotton are now picking Presidents”

By: DL White
Lana Cooper-Jones, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, and Gloria Cooper and Nathan Fletcher celebrate 50th annual Juneteenth in San Diego, CA.

Freedom Day, 19th of June, Juneteenth, Emancipation Day. However, one acknowledges this special day, the key take away, it is now a federal holiday, thanks largely to voters! 
Voters, yes!……..The power of the vote paved the way for the Biden-Harris ticket to claim the Oval Office in November 2020. It was also the power of the vote two years earlier that flipped the House of Representatives.

Lest we also forget, the Georgia Special run-off election in January, 2021, which evened the Senate at 50-50, allowing Vice-president Harris (as Democratic VP) to cast the deciding vote in matters before the Congress. While President Biden and Vice-president Harris should certainly be commended for acting on and seeing this important matter through, voters across the country should also take a bow. President Joseph R. Biden on Thursday, February 17, with Vice-president Kamala Harris, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate along with special guest 90 year-old Ms. Opal Lee of Fort Worth, Texas, signed the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday commencing Friday, June 18, 2021. ddPrior to Juneteenth  becoming a federal holiday, it had been celebrated an recognized in over 40 states across the country, beginning in Galveston, Texas in June 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger and his Union troops arrived and announced to the citizens of the Southern city that the war (Civil War) had ended two months prior with Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant.  In September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln at the urging of Frederick Douglass, and Northern anti-slavery groups (abolitionist) signed an executive order that was to go into effect in January, 1863. That executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all individuals being held in bondage (slavery) in states that had seceded from the Union were free.

Danny L. White  currently lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is the author and creative lead for the Sensational letter “S”, a children’s book focused on early reading comprehension and word development. He is also a Adjunct faculty member at Maricopa College, and staff reporter for the Arizona Informant.

Many Southerners had flocked to Texas the outer rim of the Deep South (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, So. Carolina, etc), attempting to escape the advancing Union army, many taking their property (human and otherwise) with them.Granger’s announcement (Order #3) declared all individuals being held in bondage were free, however, should remain with their former enslavers and work for a wage? “This is an honor,” noted Vice-president Harris, adding, “We are standing in the halls and building that was built by enslaved individuals. We are a few hundred yards from where then President Abraham Lincoln signed the executive order.

 “Today is a special for a number of reasons and none less important than the message this sends, that freedom is important and everyone in this country has a duty and responsibility to learn about this country’s true history,” shared Harris.

“Great countries do not run or hide from their history they stand up to it. Today, this action addresses racial equity through the federal government,” stated President Biden.

Arizona and California have long histories of celebrating Juneteenth. California passed a bill in 2002 making the celebration for freedom a state holiday.

The Tucson Celebration began in the early 70s on A-Mountain, when Babe Fowler was asked why he was celebrating the 4th of July, as the 19th of June was his celebration. 

In the San Diego area, the Cooper Family Foundation has hosted their annual Juneteenth Art and Culture celebration each year since 1954. Originally from Oklahoma, the celebration in San Diego was started by the late Sidney Cooper, Sr. It began at the family’s Cooper Grocery Store and was held in the parking lot at 30th and Imperial Avenue.  This year the event was held a Memorial Park at 30th and Oceanview.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria made the proclamation in saying “he does here by proclaim June 19 to be Juneteenth day in the City of San Diego.”

In the Phoenix area, the name synonymous with Juneteenth is that of Vernell Coleman, the matriarch of the event. Coleman, a Texas native moved to Arizona as a child in 1938. She later began cooking out of her own kitchen in the Matthew Henson Housing Projects. In the late 60s and early 70s, the event formalized and moved to Eastlake Park, where it is held today. 

Writers note: For more information about Juneteenth and for events in your area visit Juneteenth.com

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