Monroe Equity Community has proudly supported, sponsored, and promoted Monroe's Juneteenth Public Celebrations since June 2020.
The Emancipation Proclamation which declared all enslaved people in the United States should be freed (except for Delaware and Kentucky which practiced chattel slavery) was issued on January 1, 1863 but enforcement of the proclamation did not reach remote states like Texas for over three years. By 1865, approximately 250,000 people were still enslaved in Texas and the practice of human enslavement was not fully abolished until 1866.
On June 19th, 1865 emancipation for enslaved people finally reached Texas and this date was celebrated as Freedom Day, Jubilee, or Juneteenth for Americans who were taken from their native lands through the practice of slavery.
In the 1950's and 1960's, the Civil Rights Movement focused the attention of Black Americans on assimilation and integration- observations of Juneteenth declined during that time. In the 1990's, Juneteenth celebrations became more common in Black communities and in 1997 Ben Haith and Lisa Jeanne Graf created and refined the Juneteenth flag. The holiday has gained recognition since then through activists in pop music, television, and social media as well as through organizations like Nike and the NFL.
In June of 2021, President Joe Biden made history when he declared Juneteenth a Federal Holiday by signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in response to the work of Lula Briggs Galloway, Opal Lee, and others.