June 19th has historical significance for African Americans and is celebrated each year. The importance of observing Juneteenth and how it came to be is highlighted below:
A combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” Juneteenth, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the civil war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Juneteenth today celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. It's a time for reassuring each other, for praying, and for spending time with family, friends, and co-workers. Some activities on this day include parades, rodeos, fishing, sports, music, and barbecuing. Guest speakers are also usually bought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.
This year, the House of Representatives voted to make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday; House Passes Bill Making Juneteenth A Federal Holiday: NPR. SWAAAE, its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and our membership recognizes the significance of this date and its importance to our Aviation community.
Learn more about the significance of Juneteenth: