Friday, June 14, 2024

Feel Good Friday - Juneteenth USA

Next week, on June 19th, people in the United States will celebrate a recently recognized federal holiday, Juneteenth. That makes today a great day to learn about the oldest Juneteenth nonprofit advocacy organization in the United States, Juneteenth USA.

Founded in 1985 by the late Hon. Al Edwards Sr. (D-TX), the original purpose of Juneteenth USA (J-USA) was “to raise awareness and advance the Juneteenth holiday to a national one.” Today, their mission is “to fund exceptional projects to bring all Americans to celebrate, support, and continue to elevate the common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education, and historic preservation of Juneteenth in America.”

First let’s start with a history lesson from “Juneteenth is the oldest internationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.”

In 1979, legislation recognizing Juneteenth Day was initiated by Senator Edwards. It passed the Texas State Legislature and was signed into law that same year. In 1985, J-USA was founded to raise awareness and advance the Juneteenth holiday to a national one. Sadly, Senator Edwards passed away in 2020 a year before Juneteenth became a federal holiday.

Now J-USA supports several projects such as the Absolute Equality mural at the site where General Granger issued General Order Number 3, and purchasing the OST Theater in Houston to use for Juneteenth related and culturally relevant events. They also offer scholarships for HBCU students and funding for community projects highlighting the arts and education.

If you’d like to support Juneteenth USA in their continued advocacy and education work, there are many ways to do so. Make a donation and raise awareness on social medial by liking their Facebook page and following them on Instagram or LinkedIn.

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