image

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Celebrating African-American freedom, Juneteenth marks when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told they were free.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War to 250,000 enslaved black people.

This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s part of history that wasn’t known to a lot of people.

“I’m 57,” Willie Jackson said. “I just recently learned about Juneteenth. It’s sad to say, but it’s the truth.”

Jackson said now he teaches his children about unity to honor the historic day.

Juneteenth did not become federally recognized until 2021, and Florida has not yet declared it a state holiday.

There were Juneteenth events all over the city Wednesday with many people asking when Florida will join other states in recognizing the holiday.

“I’m proud of this day,” Victoria Cribb said. “If we’re going to acknowledge July the Fourth, I feel we should acknowledge Juneteenth as well.”

There have been attempts to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in the past, but they’ve failed. In 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a resolution to honor Juneteenth but hasn’t done it since.

“Florida is a former confederate state, and it’s imperative that our government facilitates opportunities for Floridians to learn about moments in history like Juneteenth,” Minority leader Fentrice Driskell said. “By celebrating Emancipation Day, we can learn from our past and build a better future. When the legislature convenes in 2025, we should seriously consider making Juneteenth a state holiday.”

“I feel like once we know better, we’ll do better. And so I think that this is something that should start very early with educating our children,” Cribb said.

Governor DeSantis spoke in Marathon today but didn’t mention Juneteenth.

8 On Your Side reached out to his office to see if there’s been any more thought on recognizing the holiday on a state level. We are waiting to hear back.