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Juneteenth marks the end of slavery. Here’s what happened and how to celebrate June 19, 2020 – CNET

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Juneteenth, which takes place annually on June 19 — that falls on Friday in 2020 — is a widely celebrated holiday that marks the freedom of enslaved black people in the US. This year, the day carries special meaning, in light of the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality, sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks

Juneteenth, which is also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, is a recognized holiday in 47 states across the country. But major companies like Spotify, Twitter and Lyft have recently added Juneteenth to their calendars, with Google making it an official calendar holiday (Apple’s calendar already had it). Some companies are also giving employees the day off to observe the holiday, including Nike, Target and the NFL. 

If you’re looking for ways to observe or celebrate Juneteenth this year, we’ve gathered a list of ideas for you. 

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What’s the story behind Juneteenth

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Major Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read a federal order abolishing the institution of chattel slavery in the state:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

The moment was significant. Texas had been a holdout state where enslavement continued, despite President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery two years before, in 1863, and the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the US Constitution. The 13th Amendment passed on Jan. 31, 1865.

Since then, Americans have observed and celebrated Juneteenth as Emancipation Day, a day of freedom. On June 3, 1979, Texas declared it an official state holiday. Texas was the first, but 46 more states now count Juneteenth as a state holiday or a day of observance.

How can I observe Juneteenth?

Some traditional ways to celebrate Juneteenth that you may still see today are rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball, according to the Juneteenth website. A prayer service, speaker series, reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and dances are among other early Juneteenth celebrations, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Other ways to celebrate Juneteenth

Black lives matter. Support the cause these eight ways: From making donations to getting more involved in your local community, here are real ideas you can participate in to support the Black Lives Matter movement and antiracism, even from your living room.

Educate yourself: Spend the day reading about Juneteenth’s history, including how black families felt after being emancipated. Watch the documentary 13th on Netflix, or engage with other movies, shows, books and podcasts about systemic racism.

Participate in online Juneteenth events: Tune in to the virtual Juneteenth music festival or online gala, and find a listing of local events where you live, like this one

Reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, systemic racism continues to this day. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against black people in America and throughout the world.

Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate younger kids in your neighborhood who may not know about the holiday.

Celebrate with a barbecue: Gather your family together to celebrate freedom. Since the coronavirus pandemic is still a serious concern, make sure you’re following your state’s guidelines for group gatherings (here are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines). We recommend social distancing with people outside your household and the wearing of face masks when you aren’t actively eating.

Juneteenth only comes once a year, but there are more ways you can help your community all year long. For example, you can support the Black Lives Matter movement after the protests end, and here’s how to find a BLM protest where you live.

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