June 19 has been designated as an official Juneteenth Celebration Day in the State of Michigan. While there is growing momentum toward making Juneteenth a national holiday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the declaration early this week to commemorate the 1865 abolition of slavery in the United States.
Juneteenth is a colloquial reference to June 19, 1865, the date in which enslaved people in Texas were finally made aware of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln two years earlier. In the age of instant communication, a two-year delay in relaying a life-changing message seems unfathomable, but just 155 years ago, it was reality.
In referencing the Juneteenth proclamation, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II said “We have seen Michiganders across the state continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others. This day, which marks when the final group of Black Americans understood that they were free, is an important reminder of the work that must continue to be done to deliver equity and opportunity to every community.”
Reporting for WGRT – Jennie McClelland