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Juneteenth officially a federal holiday, local shares the importance

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally told of their emancipation.
Juneteenth is a celebration of the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally told of...
Juneteenth is a celebration of the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally told of their emancipation.(Source: (CBS))
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 7:29 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Just hours ago, President Joe Biden signed a bill officially creating June 19th a federal holiday, known as Juneteenth Nation Independence Day.

The holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally told of their emancipation.

The day came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

Although President Lincoln declared all former slaves free, there were still people enslaved for a time after.

“It’s important to recognize that day and celebrate to commemorate those who had been enslaved for over 300 years, their descendants,” said Joyce Jefferson, owner of Joyce Jefferson Interpretations. “I imagine from one place to another, emancipation day carried different dates, different meanings, but always freedom.”

Commemorations across the country are taking place, from a Wisconsin celebration crowning a Juneteenth king and queen, to a 700-pound bronze statue of George Floyd, to flag raisings and parades. Jefferson says it’s important to celebrate and learn.

“Whatever you feel is right,” said Jefferson on celebrating. “In the Hills in the 1800s, they had a parade with the 25th Infantry. They had dances and contests and the emancipation proclamation was read.”

In the Black Hills, an emancipation day was often celebrated in early August, according to Jefferson. She says an official holiday can be healing.

“Except for Martin Luther King Day, and that celebrates a person, Juneteenth celebrates a people,” continued Jefferson. ”I think it’s being officially recognized now as a unifying effort so that the discord that we have experienced over the course of time can be, not obliterated, but can be recognized for what it was and draw us all together as a community and as a nation.”

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