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Home / Tips and Tricks / Juneteenth a paid vacation for some? What it is, why it matters, how to celebrate June 19th

Juneteenth a paid vacation for some? What it is, why it matters, how to celebrate June 19th



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Official celebrations of Juneteenth are becoming more common.

Vitalii Abakumov/iStock

Juneteenth – a combination of words “June” and “nineteenth” – is a holiday celebrated by millions of Americans this month. The holiday marks the freedom of enslaved black people in the US. One year after the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality, fueled by the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and others, the holiday is getting more attention across the country, both within black communities and the wider consciousness.

Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day or Anniversary Day. It is commemorated or observed to some degree in almost all US states. Big companies like Spotify, Twitter and Lyft Added Juneteenth to their calendars for the first time in 2020. Google has also made Juneteenth an official calendar holiday. (Apple’s Calendar has already noticed.)

The national focus over the past year has led to a push to make Juneteenth a national holiday, including a petition with real momentum. Some companies and organizations also give employees a day off to observe the holidays. Last year, entrepreneur Elon Musk said he wanted Juneteenth permanent US vacation for his companies Tesla and SpaceX, although no paid day off.

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






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Juneteenth History: How It Signed the End of Slavery?

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

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

The moment was important. Texas was the last of the Confederate states to continue slavery, despite President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation to end slavery in 1863 and despite the Civil War’s end on April 9, 1865. Texas was the most remote state in the Confederacy, and it took Union troops until June to reach Texas in sufficient numbers to announce and enforce the federal order ending slavery there. (The 13th Amendment, which added the abolition of slavery to the Constitution, passed Congress in January 1865, but was not ratified and passed until December 1865.)

Since June 19, 1865, Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth as Emancipation Day, a day of freedom. In 1980, Texas began marking Juneteenth as a public holiday, the first state to do so. Now almost all states commemorate or celebrate Juneteenth to some degree.

How can I observe Juneteenth?

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

States that observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday

While many states celebrate Juneteenth as a public holiday, these are the states that consider it a paid holiday.

  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Ways to celebrate Juneteenth now

Order food from a Black-owned restaurant: Support black restaurant owners in your community by ordering food on Juneteenth and beyond – be here eight ways to find black restaurants where you live. Yelp and Uber Eats can help you find these restaurants in their apps.

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

Develop yourself and reflect: While slavery ended in 1865, racism persists in countless institutions. Use June 19 as a day to reflect on critical issues that perpetuate discrimination against black people in America and around the world. Spend the day reading about the history of Juneteenth, including how black families felt after being emancipated. Watch the documentary 13th on Netflix, or chat with others movies, shows, books and podcasts that can help uncover real-world problems.

View Juneteenth Events Online: Tune in to the Juneteenth virtual music festival or online celebrations and find a list of local events where you live like this one.

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 educate younger kids in your area who may not know about the holidays.

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

Juneteenth only comes once a year, but there are more ways you can help your community year-round — for example, support the Black Lives Matter movement.


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