California Commemorates Juneteenth ’22 | Post News Group

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

On June 6, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a proclamation making Juneteenth an official holiday for city employees.

Although President Joe Biden signed a bill declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday last year, cities and states still have the power to decide which holidays they will officially observe.

Mayor Garcetti’s signing is one among many commemorations of Juneteenth nationwide as a growing number of states and municipalities officially honor the historic holiday long celebrated in African American communities across the United States.

“We need every Angeleno to learn the full story of our past, no matter the ugliness of some of its chapters, and that means the lasting legacy of slavery in our country,” Garcetti said at the signing ceremony.

History of Juneteenth

The holiday is recognition of June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers notified enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation.

Two and a half years earlier, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes across the country to mark what was known as “Freedom’s Eve” on Jan. 1, 1863. They were awaiting news confirming that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in Confederate States.

Anticipation heightened and celebrations began as the news spread of the 13th Amendment, the constitutional modification that established the abolition of slavery. Union soldiers began their march to spread the news throughout plantations and cities in the South.

However, not everyone in the Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later.

In Galveston Bay, freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. That momentous day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865–1877) was an era of great hope, marked uncertainty, and struggle for the nation. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation, and even sue slaveholders for compensation.

A California 2022 Juneteenth State Proposal

On May 19, California State Senators Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 109, which would recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday statewide this year. Nine other members of the California Legislative Black Caucus are co-sponsors of the resolution.

For the past three years, Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued Juneteenth proclamations commemorating the holiday and declaring it “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in the State.

SCR 109 urges “the people of California to join in celebrating Juneteenth as a day to honor and reflect on the significant role that African Americans have played in the history of the United States and how they have enriched society through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity and equality.”

California would join Texas (1980), Massachusetts (2007), New Jersey (2020), New York (2020), Pennsylvania (2020), Virginia (2020), Washington (2021), Oregon (2021) and Delaware (2021) Juneteenth as an official state holiday giving state employees the day off from work.

“By making Juneteenth an official state holiday, California would demonstrate its commitment to celebrating the emancipation of all slaves,” Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) said in a statement.

“Juneteenth is an important and special annual celebration for Black culture, resilience, and achievement,” Weber continued. “Designating this date as a paid state holiday mirrors the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.”

A Snapshot of Juneteenth Events in California

Here are a few highlighted Juneteenth 2022 events in California.

East Bay

Pan African Wellness Fest in Oakland

Lake Merritt Ampitheater

Afrocentric Oakland is hosting a two-day event, The Fam Bam & Pan African Wellness Fest, at Lake Merritt Amphitheater on Lake Merritt Boulevard on June 18 and 19 from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm

The festival will focus on holistic wellness and feature local wellness providers offering meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, spoken word, self-defense lessons, connections to mental health services, and more.

The organization will also present “Black Excellence Awards” and provide fun activities for children.

Berkeley Juneteenth Festival

Alcatraz-Adeline Corridor

Held annually in June on Father’s Day in South Berkeley’s five-block Alcatraz-Adeline corridor, the festival has been produced by the Berkeley Juneteenth Association, Inc., a non-profit, serving the community since 1986. They rebranded as Berkeley Juneteenth Cultural Celebrations to pursue and sponsor more cultural events throughout the year.

You can find more Juneteenth events here.

Contra Costa County

2022 Let Freedom Ring East Contra Costa County Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 19, 2022, Brentwood City Park, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

“As we strive to celebrate and honor the diversity of all Contra Costa County cities and their history, Juneteenth is a celebration to be held with as much respect as 4th of July celebrations go forth,” the web announcement says. The event is dubbed “A Salute to Black Fathers,” and features tributes to Luther Vandross and Frankie Beverly and gospel artists.

Sacramento

California Legislative Black Caucus Presents Juneteenth: A Day of Remembrance

State Capitol – West Steps

From 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm on Monday, June 20, the California Legislative Black Caucus will host a lunch celebrating Black freedom with family, friends, food trucks, and more festivities. The CLBC is calling on all Californians to support AB 1655, which will permanently make Juneteenth a state holiday in California.

Sacramento Juneteenth Festival 2022

William Land Park

Sacramento Juneteenth Incorporated will produce this year’s festival June 17-19, 2022, in William Land Park. This year’s theme will focus on systematic economic injustices. They will partner with several local organizations to highlight and expose the systems and laws that perpetuate the continued economic injustices inflicted on communities of color. Events include a gospel concert, live entertainment, vendors, and more.

You can find more Sacramento Juneteenth events here.

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