Since then, the popularity of Juneteenth celebrations has waxed and waned. In the early years after the war, there were picnics, rodeos, and other celebrations, usually held in churches and other rural areas. Many times, the community faced resistance and denial of use of the public property of towns to hold celebrations. Still, celebrations were widespread and popular. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.
During the early part of the 20th Century, celebrations declined, as economic conditions and other factors de-emphasized what happened on June 19th. Textbooks in the new universal public schools only focused on the Emancipation Proclamation as the moment slavery ended.
However, in the 50s and 60s, as the Civil Rights Movement spread, there was a new interest in African American history. In 1968, for instance, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
Finally, Juneteenth began to be recognized as a holiday. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.
Today, Juneteenth is a recognized state holiday in 39 states, as well as the District of Columbia:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The National Juneteenth Movement continues to try to make Juneteenth a National Holiday.
Material supplied by Juneteenth.com and Wikipedia
Finally, here is some music to thumb our noses at Republicans who would try to take away those rights we as Americans have fought and died for, and who would advocate secession.