Celebrate, Educate, and Agitate. These goals of Juneteenth, coined by Mitch Kachun, exemplify that the celebration of Juneteenth is as much a celebration of freedom as it is a celebration of our resistance to injustice and resilience as a community, for more reasons than just overcoming a history of enslavement. While Juneteenth is now celebrated as an official national holiday across the United States, we have a responsibility to pay reverence to the history of harm that created this holiday in the first place, and the ways that the cycle of oppression continues to have modern-day implications.
Now, for those who are unaware of the origins of Juneteenth, Juneteenth marks the day that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were freed by executive decree more than two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
The history of Juneteenth celebrations is not as simple as a jubilee to celebrate the end of slavery. As with most of Black American history, significant efforts inhibited our ability to celebrate and our civil rights.
The first Juneteenth celebration occurred in Texas churches because Black public gatherings were still prohibited. However, despite attempts to prevent us from celebrating, we persisted, and Juneteenth celebrations spread throughout the South to their eventual commercialization during the 1920s and 1930s.
A group of Black leaders even banded together to purchase land specifically for Juneteenth Celebrations, which is now known as Houston’s Emancipation Park.
Juneteenth celebrations were characterized by good food, good music, fun games, and even political rallies to provide voting instructions to newly freed African Americans.
Juneteenth celebrations made their way across the country as the Great Migration pushed Black folks to search for financial stability in urban areas.
However, the celebrations were not always possible, especially once America entered the Great Depression. As Black people were forced to work on Juneteenth during this period, there was an obvious decline in celebrations. But this wouldn’t deter Texans from continuing to celebrate the celebration that they started.
Between 1936 and 1951, the Texas State Fair served as the destination for Juneteenth and thus contributed to the overall revival of Juneteenth.
The deterrence from celebrating our freedom and our persistence in chasing joy are distinctive markers of our resilience as a community. As you can see, at every step of our journey, we have had to fight for our right to live and our fight against tobacco usage is no different.
During the 19th century, the main plantation system throughout America was tobacco cultivation. As tobacco usage transitioned from loose tobacco to cigarettes, the tobacco industry became even more successful and thus required even more