BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights
Juneteenth occurs on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It was on that day in 1865 when, according to the official Juneteenth web site, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that slaves were now free. This was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Recognition of Juneteenth as an official New Hampshire holiday was recommended by Gov. Christopher Sununu’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
“Our society will be stronger and more cohesive if we work to celebrate and recognize the full history of the identities, cultures, religious holidays, and milestone events that affect and define all communities throughout the State,” the council said in its June 7 preliminary report.
The advisory council noted that Juneteenth, which is called “America’s other Independence Day,” is recognized as a holiday in 45 other states with New Hampshire, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota being the only exceptions.
In neighboring Massachusetts, the holiday was proclaimed in 2007 and is celebrated with public events such as parades, cookouts, concerts and displays of African American art and culture.
The governor has taken no action on the advisory council’s preliminary recommendations, though he acknowledged the report.
“If we really want to be the Live Free or Die State, we must ensure that New Hampshire is a place where every person, regardless of their background, has an equal and full opportunity to pursue their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their families.”
Opponents of making Juneteenth an official holiday argue that the struggle of Black Americans is fully recognized already with Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January. They say individual communities can decide how best to otherwise publicly celebrate diversity.
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