Juneteenth (also called “Freedom Day”) is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, TX with the news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were free, over two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered. The holiday dates all the way back to the 1800s, yet many Americans were unaware of the holiday until 2020. Why? Because it’s not taught in the majority of schools.
Key moments in Black history are often left out of the curriculum. Black history lessons in public schools hit vague points - slavery, the civil rights movement, and after 2008 some schools may have added President Obama into their curriculum. During Black History Month, we might have seen a bulletin board with Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks put up. But there is no national curriculum or set of standards for teaching Black history in America and only a few states actually require Black history to be taught in public school.
This year, let's focus on educating ourselves. We weren’t taught this in school and the majority of us weren’t taught this at home. The only way to avoid disasters such as Walmart’s Juneteenth-Themed Ice Cream is to stay educated and stay informed.