by Lucy F.
Juneteenth is a combination of June and 19th. It became a federal holiday in 2021 but many people still don’t understand its significance or what it really means. Mrs. Sheehan, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director for Duxbury Public Schools notes that although Juneteenth is an important holiday, she didn’t learn about the holiday until she was in graduate school.
“Juneteenth is an important holiday in many African-American communities and is considered a second Independence Day,” said Mrs. Sheehan.
In fact, it is also called Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day. Today she says she celebrates by educating others about its importance and significance.
Most people don’t know what Juneteenth is. Mrs. Levine shared much about the reason Juneteenth is so important and how it started. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union General Gordon Granger and Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, the final confederate community in the United States. General Granger told the enslaved people in Galveston that the Civil War was over and they were free. General Granger and his troops enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued almost two and a half years earlier by President Lincoln.
For many African-Americans, Juneteenth is a time to reflect, honor, and celebrate their history and culture, and has been celebrated for over 150 years. Many high school students don’t know much about Juneteenth if they know anything at all. Until recently, Juneteenth wasn’t a nationally recognized holiday.
Teachers like Mrs. Levine and Mrs. Sheehan are very important in making a change in that by educating their students about such an important holiday. “I think it’s important to make sure my student know the significance of this holiday,” says Mrs. Levine. Juneteenth should be a day full of celebration and education and it is very important that it is recognized that way. If you are interested in learning more about Juneteenth, Mrs. Sheehan recommends looking at the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum. At the Museum’s site, you can find articles, videos, music explorations, and more ways to explore the holiday of Juneteenth.