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WHAT IS JUNETEENTH?
Today marks Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. And though many of us may just be learning about the significance of this holiday, it’s important to take time to recognize its place in American history and reflect on the long struggle for equal rights – and how far we have to go.
THE HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH
Juneteenth, short for “June Nineteenth,” is a celebration that signifies the day federal troops marched into Galveston in 1865 to take control of the state and free all enslaved people. Since then, Juneteenth (also referred to as Emancipation Day) is a day for African Americans to honor their culture and history, while also giving non-Black people an opportunity to learn about the day’s significance.
Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979 and is considered to be the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery in America. Now, 47 states and Washington D.C. recognize the holiday.
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WHAT IS BLACK WALL STREET?
Before the Tulsa Race Massacre where the city’s Black district of Greenwood was attacked by a white mob, resulting in two days of bloodshed and destruction, the area had been considered one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States for the early part of the 20th century.
The massacre, which began on May 31, 1921 and left hundreds of Black residents dead and 1,000 houses destroyed, often overshadows the history of the venerable Black enclave itself. Greenwood District, with a population of 10,000 at the time, had thrived as the epicenter of African American business and culture, particularly on bustling Greenwood Avenue, commonly known as Black Wall Street.
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