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Montevideo, September 25th 2021 - 21:08 UTC

 

 

United States celebrates “Juneteenth”, the new national holiday marking the end of slavery

Monday, June 21st 2021 - 07:44 UTC
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On June 19, 1865, in Texas the Union army, victorious after the bitterly fought Civil War, announced to African Americans that slaves were now free On June 19, 1865, in Texas the Union army, victorious after the bitterly fought Civil War, announced to African Americans that slaves were now free

The United States celebrated over the weekend “Juneteenth”, the newly declared national holiday that marks the end of slavery and which comes a year after George Floyd's murder sparked anti-racism protests.

Hundreds of events, marches, music, dancing and speeches took place across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, and most notably in Galveston, Texas, the symbolic heart of the Juneteenth commemoration.

On Jun 19, 1865, it was in that Texas coastal area that the Union army - victorious after the bitterly fought Civil War - announced to African Americans that, even if some in Texas were trying to ignore it, enslaved people were now free.

Slavery was formally abolished in December 1865, with the adoption of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, but Juneteenth has remained the emblematic date marking the freeing of enslaved Americans.

This year's Juneteenth celebrations were more celebratory, coming just days after President Joe Biden signed legislation making it a national holiday, and also at a time when pandemic-imposed restrictions on public gatherings are steadily being erased.

In effect, George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis touched off a sweeping protest movement, in the United States and around the globe, against racism and police violence toward minorities.

That movement helped boost the visibility of Juneteenth - a date that many Americans, including many African-Americans, had not heard of even two years ago. An opinion survey published last week by Gallup institute found that 28% of Americans knew “nothing at all” about the anniversary.

However celebrating Juneteenth now seems “a bit surreal” at a time legislators in many Republican-led states are passing laws that will suppress the vote and “most acutely affect communities of colour,” tweeted Sharif Street, a Black state legislator from Pennsylvania.

From January through May, 14 states, notably Georgia and Florida, passed laws limiting opportunities to vote - measures seen as aimed at reducing the influence of minority voters, particularly African-Americans.

To Sharif Street, it is “a reminder that our wins are not permanent, even with powerful symbols of progress,” like the right to vote.

Categories: Politics, United States.

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