Although Juneteenth, which is on June 19th every year, has only been a federally recognized holiday since 2021, its history goes all the way back to the 19th century.

While it is a happy day and is sometimes compared to the 4th of July for the Black community, it’s important to keep in mind what the day observes, all the way back in 1865.

“In 1865, federal troops descended upon Galveston, Texas to free slaves. They had already been freed two and a half years earlier via the Emancipation Proclamation,” said Jovon Dangerfield, a local community activist and executive director of TYM4Change, or Transitional Youth Mobilizing for Change, a non-profit.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation could not be implemented in every state, and it took two and a half years for freedom to finally come.

”You should care. Because at the end of the day, we have to share this community, and the more information we get on each other and how we correlate, the better that we’re able to live together in harmony and do things that push the community forward,” said Dangerfield.

Patrick Jackson and his partner Artisa Mae Moten are both with the NAACP and said it’s not just a holiday for Black people to celebrate.

Jackson said people of all races and ethnicities have come out to Juneteenth events in recent years, and Dangerfield said turnout has increased in recent years too.

“Everyone comes out and celebrates with us for this particular day so people can come out and really embrace what is happening within our community,” said Jackson.

He also said it’s especially important for younger people.

“Juneteenth isn’t just for black people. It is for all of us to come and celebrate and honor the resilience and the determination that our ancestors fought unimaginable hardships, and now we get to celebrate their freedom,” said Moten.

Dangerfield also said this holiday shows how sometimes in history, legislation just hasn’t been enough, and action is required for change.

“If you look at Jim Crow, there were still things happening. They desegregated schools but didn’t solve the hate issue. So oftentimes, we get these moments of freedom that don’t really occur with a proper follow-up,” he said.

For those looking to celebrate, click here to read more about the next few upcoming events.