Editorial: The Juneteenth federal holiday raises awareness of an important moment in our nation's history

Juneteenth has only been recognized as a federal holiday since 2021. In our community, Juneteenth has been observed publicly since 2019.

Monday is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, which commemorates the day in 1865 when the final enslaved Black people learned they had been freed. According to The Associated Press, June 19, 1865, “was the day that Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — some 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves in Southern states.”

The Dalton-Whitfield branch of the NAACP has spearheaded efforts to celebrate Juneteenth. On June 10, the group kicked off the fourth annual Juneteenth Community Celebration with concerts at downtown Dalton’s Burr Performing Arts Park as part of the “Off the Rails” summer entertainment series.

Events continue Saturday in downtown Dalton with the Juneteenth parade at 10 a.m., which starts at First Baptist Church of Dalton and ends at the Emery Center, an African American Heritage and multicultural center.

Saturday night is the Juneteenth gala at Walnut Hill Farm at 6. Carol Anderson, New York Times best-selling author and Emory University’s Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies, is the evening’s speaker.

And on Monday, the Juneteenth celebration concludes with a family fun day at the Mack Gaston Community Center at 1 p.m.

During remarks by President Joe Biden at the signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making Juneteenth a federal holiday, the president said:

“Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation, and a promise of a brighter morning to come. This is a day of profound — in my view — profound weight and profound power. A day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take — what I’ve long called ‘America’s original sin.’ At the same time, I also remember the extraordinary capacity to heal, and to hope, and to emerge from the most painful moments and a bitter, bitter version of ourselves, but to make a better version of ourselves.”

We hope that you are able to attend the local Juneteenth events. We also hope that you take time to reflect on what Juneteenth means.

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