Why We Celebrate Juneteenth

We celebrate June 19th, Juneteenth, to commemorate freedom for all enslaved African Americans in the United States of America. The day celebrates and emphasizes history, education, and achievement.

The fight for freedom for enslaved African Americans during the Civil War did not end in 1863 with the declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation. Though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it resulted in freedom for enslaved African Americans in the mostly Union states during the Civil War. It would take another two and a half years before almost all enslaved African Americans were freed; particularly those enslaved in Confederate states in the south like Texas. June 19th is the day in 1865 when those not freed in the Confederate states would finally be released from bondage by their slaveholders, after the Union army physically reached these areas and read the Emancipation Proclamation to still enslaved families. Still, in Texas, some slaveholders did not free their enslaved families until the end of 1865 when the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, was ratified into law.

Until mid-20th century, Juneteenth was celebrated primarily in African American communities.  As of 2020, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance. Advocates continue to lobby for Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday.

Juneteenth is celebrated to remember our ancestors who persevered, resisted, and kept faith that freedom would come one day – the courage to know freedom is our destiny. The atrocities of enslavement of Black bodies in the US is a deep trauma in the collective consciousness of this country. We practice to heal ourselves and our ancestors that our descendants will not continue to carry this suffering in their bodies and mind. On this day let us celebrate the courageous hearts of ancestors and each other, finding joy on this path of healing freedom from enslavement of body and mind.

Radiating a heart filled with loving kindness
That all beings suffering from the legacy of US enslavement
May be healed

Radiating this gentle energy directly in front of this body
Radiating this boundless energy to the right of this body
Radiating this boundless compassion behind this body
Radiating this boundless love to the left of this body
Radiating this limitless heart below this body
Radiating this joyful heart above this body

I see you, I hear you, I love you
May you remain in freedom of body and mind
May your freedom light radiate limitless healing

May you celebrate all the accomplishments
May you remember all the achievements
May you grow from the sorrow
May your heart heal gently
May your heart heal strongly
May your heart love all your cells

May it be like this in this moment
May it be like this continuously

4 thoughts on “Why We Celebrate Juneteenth”

  1. Your words are felt deeply by this white man who only imagines the pain. I agree remembrance of the unfathomable concept of owning another human being is worthy to celebrate its days are gone. We need to strive in every action we do to honor each other and condemn the enslavement of anyone. Let us celebrate this day in history that our country recognized it into law. But let’s pray we all allow this to happen in our daily fabric of America. We are still not the land of the free but it we as individuals are the road to freedom. I celebrate this holiday with hopes of freedom for all and respect for all. God bless all that have suffered and hopes we all can be free!

  2. Thank you Marisela Gomez for teaching me about this celebration of Juneteenth. “May your freedom light radiate limitless healing.” I can’t wait to see and hear more of your words and wisdom as you take your rightful place at the table of DT’s representing the BIPOC Sangha and nurturing all of us into more kindness and more understanding to continue the healing light. Deep Gratitude. LoAn.

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