Juneteenth 2024: Celebrating Freedom Day

Juneteenth, celebrated as a national holiday on June 19th, is a holiday that recognizes a pivotal day in American history: the end of slavery. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates that on June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas, and ensalved people were made aware of their freedom. While this day is one of celebration, it should also be noted that this took place two and half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. While President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863, freeing all slaves in Confederate states, this required the Union Army to enforce this law.

On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army finally reached Galveston, Texas. He subsequently announced General Order No. 3. This order declared that enslaved people everywhere in Texas were now free. This holiday stands as a reminder of freedom’s critical nature and formerly enslaved people’s resilience against unrelenting oppression. To honor the day, GrantWatch offers a special list of grants that all lend support to individuals and communities affected by racism and social injustice.

Juneteenth Historical Overview:

When the news of freedom broke out, celebrations sparked all over the state of Texas. Slavery was over in the United States, with Texas being the last state to receive an order to free its slaves. Starting in 1866, communities began celebrating Juneteenth with gatherings of former enslaved people and their families. These early celebrations were rich in African-American cultural traditions and faith. Music, dancing, large feasts, and prayer and religious services were held. And every year, the celebrations grew. In 1872, one of the earliest recorded celebrations featured 2000 Black citizens from Columbus, Texas, who created a procession to march through the town in celebration. As the years went by, celebrations grew, with one numbering over 5000 participants in Corsica, Texas. By 1900, it had become an unofficial holiday in the state of Texas.

Celebrations Throughout Time:

The mid1900s saw celebrations become more private in nature, with families observing at home and less public fanfare. But then, in the 1970s, a renewed interest in the commemoration would change that. This would happen after Civil Rights leaders in the 1960s would refer to Juneteenth as “Solidarity Day.” In 1979, State Representative Al Edwards of Houston introduced a bill to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in the state of Texas. This would become state law in 1980. Several states would subsequently recognize the holiday in some way. In 2021, an incredibly bipartisan bill was passed, declaring June 19th “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” President Joe Biden would sign this bill into law on June 17th, 2021.

The Takeaway

The end of slavery didn’t go smoothly, but this holiday stands as a testament to the importance of freedom, civil rights, and justice. To commemorate Juneteenth, celebrations will take place all over the country. If you’re looking for some events near you, there’s a lot on this list.

Celebrating Juneteenth 2024 with Grant Funding:

  1. Training to Improve DEI-Related Practices – Funding for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals for professional training opportunities that help improve business practices related to diversity, anti-racism, inclusion, and equity.
  2. Promote Equality in the Justice System – Grants to legal aid organizations for programs and projects that promote equality and decrease racism in the justice system. Funding strengthens underserved communities, provides fair access to civil justice, and prevents the disparate outcomes that racism creates for people of color, particularly in the justice system.
  3. Mental Health Support – Grants to Black individuals working in the hospitality industry for mental health support. 
  4. Black Youth and Young Adults – Grants to nonprofit organizations to promote economic opportunities for Black youth and young adults. 
  5. Black-Founded Startups – Opportunity for startup businesses to participate in a business accelerator program. This opportunity is for companies founded by Black entrepreneurs.

Additional Funding for Juneteenth 2024

  1. Champion Black Women and Girls – Grants to nonprofits that support Black girls and women. Funding champions Black women by removing barriers, promoting empowerment, increasing access to funding and education, advancing representation in certain industries, and supporting leadership development.
  2. Promote Health Equity – Grants t nonprofit and for-profit organizations, public entities, and IHEs for research to evaluate policies, practices, and programs that promote health equity and address structural and systemic racism. 
  3. Public Policy Solutions – Up to $50,000 to nonprofits for projects related to public policy solutions. Funding addresses systemic racism and other inequities negatively impacting the health of children and their caregivers.
  4. Support Racial Equity – Grants to BIPOC-led organizations to support racial equity. Funding combats anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, and helps these populations overcome systemic disparities. 
  5. Advance Social Justice – Grants to BIPOC-led nonprofit social justice organizations for activities that further social and economic justice. Funding combats discrimination and oppression in order to create just communities and societies.

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