All across the United States and beyond, celebrations commemorate this historical event of 1865 in Galveston, Texas. General Gordon Granger of the Union Army, a native of Wayne County in New York, personally delivered the official order of the Emancipation Proclamation to the enslaved 2 years after it was issued by the 16th President Abraham Lincoln on June 19th, 1865. On this day, a new and uncertain way of life began. Today , more than 158 years since African Americans and Indigenous People of Color have elevated this celebration publicly and privately to of the most important event of the year.

JUNETEENTH celebrates freedom for all worldwide. Juneteenth promotes unity and builds self-esteem through reflection, education, and through acknowledgement of achievements. This event encourages people of all races, Nationalities and ethnicities to join together to support and participate in Juneteenth celebrations – a true testament to humanity. Juneteenth serves symbolically, and in reality, as a reference point from which to measure and appreciate the progress and contributions made by African Americans to this society.

Today, all of the descendants of those Africans and indigenous people of color in America have found an enormous responsibility and obligation to remember, renew our efforts and revitalize our spirits. We chose to do so through the organized effort and partnerships of different organizations. We found solidarity and connection in how we celebrate, and it will be showcased through our literary expression and images of the numerous shades of Black in music, technology, art, science and business.

As we take center stages to amplify throughout the communities that we are the source and reflection of a new generation of talent. These communities are the site where the torches of inspiration are passed and are encouraged to continue the tradition of celebrating annually. In honor of this long time coming, Africans and indigenous people of color in America will always celebrate each other and our triumphs with food, dancing, singing, and celebration and the absolute right to live and pursue happiness in spite of a nations attempt to silence us.

On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation (S.8598/A.10628) officially making Juneteenth, a day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States, a New York state holiday. Governor Cuomo said. “This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today.”

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Athenia Rodney