Celebrating Juneteenth in the Legal Community

For many, this shall be the first time celebrating Juneteenth. We requested Zenell Brown to information us by way of the new federal vacation and its historical past.

On June seventeenth, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into legislation. That act established Juneteenth as a federal vacation. This yr, many states, counties, native municipalities, and personal companies are following the federal authorities’s precedent and for the first time will shut up store in commentary of Juneteenth.

What Is Juneteenth and How Is It Celebrated?

Before we prove the workplace lights and prepare for this break day, let’s bear in mind President Biden’s phrases:

“All Americans can really feel the energy of today and study from our historical past.”

To that finish, to borrow from Historian Mitch Kachun, we should educate, rejoice, and recommit.


Freeing enslaved individuals was not the focus of the Civil War initially and there are a lot of inconsistencies in how the concern of slavery was approached by the Union authorities. We should educate ourselves about the Civil War and the start of Juneteenth. Juneteenth marked the day that Union General [First name] Granger marched into Texas to publicly announce to the enslaved folks that they have been free. Absolute equality was assured and enforced proper then and there for 250,000 Black males, girls and kids.

National and native libraries and museums will host academic occasions to rejoice Juneteenth. The National Museum of African American History and Culture provides a video tour of its Slavery to Freedom exhibit. We should take this time to coach ourselves and acknowledge the contributions of Black, African-American individuals in the constructing of the nation and in the continued progress of the nation.


Equipped with a greater understanding of Juneteenth’s historical past and significance, you’re able to rejoice the vacation with a spotlight of reverence — not meaningless performativity or commercialization.

With each good celebration, there may be normally a gathering of individuals, good meals and music, and the targets are enjoyable and delight. The similar is true for Juneteenth. This jubilee celebration of emancipation and independence is worthy of fireworks, flags and parades, in addition to the studying of the Emancipation Proclamation. Neighbors can stake “Happy Juneteenth” indicators in their lawns in assist of the vacation and the African American group.

Wherever you go on June 19, 2022, lengthen a smile and convey greetings to let these you encounter know you’re observing the Day of Jubilee. Pinterest and Google have quite a few celebration concepts for faculties, workplaces, and communities. Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture web site’s in depth assortment of movies and articles (or attend residing museum performances in individual). There’s even an internet site, Juneteenth.com, with historical past, swag, and a chance to assist a commemorative stamp.


Let’s be sincere, there may be nonetheless work to be executed. Although Juneteenth was a celebration of the finish of slavery in the Confederate state, slavery didn’t finish in the United States till the ratification of the thirteenth Amendment on January 31, 1865. Still, there have been permutations of slavery and penalties which have plagued and proceed to plague African American communities: Jim Crow legal guidelines, segregation, pipelines to jail and discrimination, in addition to the inequities in housing, training and well being care. We should now focus consideration on modern-day oppressors.

The wonderful factor about the United States is her continued journey to equality, securing and acknowledging freedom and liberty for all individuals, and eradicating errors and challenges in that pathway. Juneteenth serves as a marker for all of us in the authorized group to recommit to our path ahead.

One last item: earlier than you attain to show off the lights and shut the door, “Happy Juneteenth!”

Illustrations © Zanelle Brown.

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