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Local Organizations To Celebrate Juneteenth


Several local organizations will be celebrating Juneteenth this Saturday, June 19. The day is generally recognized as end of slavery in the U.S. 

Though the 13th Amendment formally abolishing slavery wasn’t ratified for another six months, Union soldiers rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to notify enslaved communities there of the Emancipation Proclamation.


The day has long been celebrated under various names – Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day – but was only recognized as a federal holiday earlier this week.


President Biden signed legislation declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday on Thursday, making it the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was recognized in 1983.


“There’s a lot happening across the country right now,” Black Lives Matter-South Bend leader Jorden Giger said. “We obviously are seeing an uptick in consciousness among Black people, which is why you see these Juneteenth celebrations spreading across the Michiana region, but also across the country.”


Giger said the holiday is an important opportunity to reflect on where the country has been, “where we are now, and where we’re going.”


“It gives us time to examine how slavery continues to impact our reality, and how the conditions against which we contend have been shaped by our enslavement,” Giger said. 


But, he said it’s also a time to celebrate and to recognize the progress Black Americans have helped the country make.


“We need spaces to be joyful and to be in community with each other and to be able to build in many different ways,” Giger said. “Be it politically, educationally, socially; it helps us to chart a better course ahead.”


Several local organizations – including the South Bend chapter of the Indiana Black Expo, BLM-South Bend, the Ruthmere Museum in Elkhart, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Niles, and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra – are hosting Juneteenth celebrations, many of them promoting Black-owned businesses.


Of BLM’s celebration, Giger said to expect “good vibes and Black joy.”


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared Juneteenth a “celebration day” in Michigan on Friday. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed legislation last year recognizing June 19 as a state holiday.


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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