For the first time in U.S. history, Juneteenth was designated as a Federal Holiday in 2021. This year, the team at McGuire Law is celebrating, and here's why:
Juneteenth commemorates the true end to slavery in the United States. Slavery was formally outlawed on January 1, 1863 when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. However, most enslaved people didn't get to enjoy this reality until much later, when it could be enforced in Confederate-controlled territory.
...all persons held as slaves within any State...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...
The last stronghold of the abhorrent practice of slavery as it existed before the Civil War was in the state of Texas. On June 19, 1865, the final remaining enslaved people in the United States in Galveston, Texas were informed of the liberty afforded them by the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many Black people have long celebrated Juneteenth as a kind of Independence Day 2.0, considering that the original Independence Day did not afford them the kind of "liberty and justice for all" that the Declaration of Independence promises to the people of the United States.
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. -Frederick Douglass
In 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation that Juneteenth would from now on be observed as a federal holiday.
On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice. And, we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility. -President Biden
Not only does this holiday commemorate the end of slavery; it also celebrates the beginning of citizenship. For the first time in history, Black Americans would begin to enjoy some of the basic guarantees of U.S. citizenship--rights that racism had robbed from them. However, the decades that followed would reveal staunch resistance to extending equality to Black people, rendering many of those rights a "dream deferred" instead of reality.
Today, the fight continues to ensure that all people in the United States--regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or any other identity--may enjoy access to the long-promised liberty and justice for all.
So, what does this have to do with us?
Well, at McGuire Law, we are motivated to pursue justice for everyone. We help people navigate the often arduous path to citizenship. We pursue liberty for those detained by immigration. We seek fair resolutions for families in court.
At McGuire Law, we are not satisfied only by the theory of justice. We are satisfied by justice becoming reality. And like the formerly enslaved in 1865 who finally learned of their freedom, we celebrate and commemorate those victories that help make the American dream of equality come true.
Happy Juneteenth! May we all continue to commit to perfecting our shared vision of liberty and justice for all.
Our office will be closed on Monday, June 20th, in observance of Juneteenth. Click here to learn more about Juneteenth from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.