News & Events

Juneteenth – An American Story

June 19, 2022

Renée Alexander Craft, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, succinctly describes where Juneteenth is positioned in American political history.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date on which enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally received the news they were free. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, one year after the Senate passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, on April 18, 1864, and six months after it was passed by the House on January 31, 1865.

Yet, Juneteenth is so much more than political history or just news of freedom. It is a personal family saga that starts on a ship in 1619. It is a date memorializing failed policies and unjust laws that denied justice for all. The story of a people kidnapped on the soil of their homeland, then forced into labor prisons called plantations in a faraway land.

With the early goals of celebrations, education, and agitation, Juneteenth is a clarion call never to forget bondage, rape, deprivation, genocide, and chattel slavery. Juneteenth is a reminder of the impact of policy on our community and the possibility of it providing a pathway to freedom and power.

More than anything, Juneteenth is our story. A story of a people who have fought for freedom even when denied freedom. A story of justice delayed yet still welcomed. Hear about the living history of the Juneteenth story from Jumaada Abdal-Khallaq Henry Smith, Chair of the Boston Juneteenth Committee.